Shortage of clean water is a vital issue in our country. As our population increases, the pressure on our water bodies and consequently the need to save water keeps on multiplying. In such cases, grassroots level initiatives by local people can vastly help counter the problem of water shortage. The story of Sakul Daihan village in Chhattisgarh can serve as an important lesson in water conservation for people across the country.
Chhattisgarh village’s quest for water
In 2002, the village had gone dry in the summer. However, the village women were determined to fight their water woes by working together. Guided by local resident and Padma Shri awardee Phoolbasan Bai Yadav, they took an initiative to build water banks, called “sokta gadda”, in the area. The women themselves wielded shovels and pickaxes to build water banks.
Banks were created near all the four hand pumps in the village by digging a 3-ft deep pits and packing them with layers of stones, bricks, coal and sand. It was ensured that the waste water from the hand pumps flowed into the ground after being filtered and treated through these layers
While sand layer on the surface filtered water from dirt, the layer of coal acts as germicide by treating the water. The treated water then flowed into the ground through the layers of bricks and stone. In this way, these women created a vast reservoir of clean water in their area.
“Our efforts have yielded results. The ground water table in the area where borewells or hand pumps have been set up has started rising. This was evident from the fact that none of the hand pumps in the village has gone dry in summers since then,” said Sandhya Dewangan, a village resident, to Asian Age.
Inspired other villages
The Sakul Daihan initiative inspired others to follow. Soon, women in other villages also started coming forward to emulate Phoolbasan’s model of preserving water for their needs. Currently, more than half of the villages in Rajnandgaon district have water banks. Nearly 60,000 women in around 900 villages in the district worked in building water banks in their areas. The initiative has greatly helped the cause of water conservation in the area. Additionally, sudden needs in the months of summer are easily met due to these banks. It has promoted sustainable use of water in the region.
“Around 20,000 water banks have so far been created in nearly 900 villages in Rajnandgaon district in the past 16 years with initiatives solely by local women. Water conservation has now turned into mass movement in the region,” said 45-year-old social activist Phoolbasan to Asian Age.
Many other initiatives took place in recent years in Chhattisgarh. In 2016, local women played a key role in making two blocks in Rajnandgaon district open defecation free (ODF). Similarly, local women are also conducting awareness campaigns in Bastar region in the state against alcohol consumption.
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Nimisha Is An Intern With SheThePeople.TV