Recently, AFPRO had the opportunity to lend technical assistance to a self-generated effort of villagers in the Nalanda district in Bihar. The district is characterized by a flat topography, criss-crossed by rivers, pynes (high-level canals) and reservoirs. The most important of the rivers is the Paimar, the ‘Sada Neera’ or the ‘perennial river’. The river is the main feeding source for a wide network of canals and pynes including the Kolhuan pyne that used to irrigate 80-85 villages of Nalanda and Islampur regions in British times. By the end of the Zamindari system, landlords registered submergence lands surrounding the pyne in their own names. This and the lack of timely maintenance made the Kolhuan pyne fade into the background for the next five decades. Shrinking sources of irrigation made the surrounding villagers take a fresh look at the pyne.
Manighatta Mitta is a small habitation located peripherally to M.Gollahalli village. It has 900 inhabitants. There are three bore-wells in this habitation to meet the drinking water requirements of the locals. However, the demand of water for irrigation by the agricultural sector has led to a gradual decline of groundwater levels. As a result, only one of these three bore-wells is functional, with water unavailable during the summer season. The bore well has a yield of 36,000 liters/day and meets the current drinking water requirements. However, it is uncertain whether it will be able to meet future requirements as well.
10 acres of land and a dug well of 32 feet are two assets that Raju Uttamrao Eche can be pride of.. While 7 acres are diverted towards cultivation of soya bean, 3 acres are put to the cultivation of cotton. Purely dependent on rainfall his crops are often victims of its erratic nature. Since both rainfall and availability of water from his dug well are unreliable, he tends to confine himself to a kharif crop, underutilizing the potential of his land by keeping it idle for the remaining part of the year. Excessive runoffs in the upper catchment also do not contribute to the recharge of his well.
Govta WUA is the largest WUA that we have been working with. The command area of the reservoir covers 17 villages, with the reservoir itself having a storage capacity of 11 million cubic meters. Since the responsibility of maintaining these channels is with the Water Resources Department, those that depend on water from these channels have rarely had to contribute to its maintenance. Even generation of financial resources to fund expenses was never really their concern, with revenue department engaging its operative at the village level to do the needful – local patwari. However, man power requirements to ensure collection of relevant tariffs and timely repairs have failed to cope up with local demands. The burden therefore fell on water users of the irrigation system, whose access to critical irrigation stood compromised.
Large sections of the population of the newly formed State of Chhattisgarh depend on the rain to grow crops. This is especially true for the 32 per cent of the tribal population of the State.
In recent years, Chhattisgarh is facing one of the worst droughts in recent years, with a shortfall of 300 mm of rainfall from the usual 1100-1400 mm per year. At places, the shortfall is as much as 500 mm. Severe damage to the kharif crop inevitably led to large-scale hunger and migration. The district of Mahasamund was the worst hit.
Nanaware Vasti, a small dairy community of 187 people and 160 cattle in Ghoti village is making news. Water overflowing from a bore well fitted with a submersible pump used to inundate the surrounding area, resulting not only in the loss of precious ground water but also creating unsanitary conditions due to water logging around. In a village meeting, the community suggested constructing a tank to store the excess flow. Technicians from AFPRO worked out the estimates, and the tank was completed at a cost of Rs. 80,000, including Rs. 30,000 contributed by the community. People get piped water for drinking now, and the excess is used for horticulture activities on 10 acres of village common lands. The income from this will go into a Water Fund that will maintain the drinking water supply scheme.
Community water distribution from a single overhead storage reservoir (OHSR) faces the problem of vandalism on the distribution side, with acute consequences in areas where water supply to the reservoir is low. The AP III project of the Government of Andhra Pradesh aims to replace OHRSs with multiple medium-level storage reservoirs (MLSRs) for rural areas in the Vijayanagaram district. The project is assisted bilaterally by the Royal Netherlands Embassy and the Government of India.
Diarrhoeal diseases account for as much as 40% of serious pediatric health problems that amount to a staggering 300 million cases in the country every year. The close association between the occurrence of diarrhea, malnutrition, lack of safe drinking water and proper sanitation facilities is well known. Unfortunately all efforts to address this issue consider diarrhea as medical problem. An integrated approach incorporating all dimensions is a felt need in the country.