2016 was one of the worst drought years in Maharashtra, especially in the Marathwada region. In districts like Latur, Beed, Osmanabad, conditions were so bad that the government had to provide drinking water through railways.
Maharashtra government has started new scheme called “Jalyukta Shiwar” in the year 2015 to make Maharashtra drought free till 2019 but it has failed to produce the desired result even after two years.
Things are now changing in Marathwada region of Maharastra by the efforts of the Paani Foundation which was started by Bollywood star Amir Khan and his wife Kiran Rao in 2016.
This NGO makes more impact than the flagship scheme of the Maharashtra government. The answer lies in “Satyamev Jayate Cup”. Amir’s foundation has arranged Satyamev Jayate Cup (water cup) for the villages.
The Satyamev Jayate water cup is essentially a competition between different villages to see who can do the maximum work for watershed management and water conservation in the period of the competition.
The top three villages will be awarded a cash prize of ₹50 lakh, ₹30 lakh, and ₹20 lakh respectively. In addition, the top village from each taluka (administrative centre) will get a cash prize of ₹10 lakh.
If a village has secured one of the top three prizes at the state level, then it will not be eligible for the ₹10 lakh prize that will be given to the top village in the taluka. In such a case, the top prize of the taluka will go to the next village.
What is the main difference between Paani foundation approach and “Jalyukta Shiwar” of Maharastra government to address water issue? Is its rewards? No, obviously not.
The difference is how participation of the people can bring change.
The Maharashtra government has launched the ambitious “Jalyukta Shiwar Abhiyan” to work on watershed management at the village level. Several NGOs and corporates have adopted villages and are constructing local water conservation work for this purpose.While all of this work is extremely important, the Paani foundation is approach the challenge from a diametrically different direction.
the NGO believes that it is the people themselves who has the power and the greatest capacity to solve the problem of water.
If people are convinced and motivated, they will find the land, the money, the know-how, the labor, and whatever else is required, to harvest and manage their water.
Every person in the village is participating in the work of water conservation. Even children are also helping in this work during their summer holidays.
As the period of April and May in Maharashtra is considered to be a lean season in terms of agriculture, there is not much work to be done in the field. People are coming out early in the morning to do the “Shramdaan”.
The Foundation is working on three major fronts.
Motivation: People must be convinced that localized rainwater harvesting and watershed management is the way to ensure water security.
Farmers, industrialists, citizens from every walk of life – adults and children – will have to be part of the movement. Every person must be convinced that he or she has a role to play in this and that this role can be played easily and joyfully.
The Foundation aims to use every form of mass media and digital media to motivate people by entertaining them, educating them and emotionally drawing them into this movement.
Training: The Foundation is working towards training five persons per village from 30,000 drought-prone villages in Maharashtra to work on watershed management.
This will entail training nearly 1.5 lakh people in total. This training will have two key components.
The first is the technical aspects of watershed management and the second is the leadership challenge which, at heart, is the challenge of getting people together and united for this task.
A Platform for Resources: The Foundation aims to create a digital platform that will enable people to:
- Access technical information from peers and from experts.
- Access funds through crowd sourcing.
- Access help from the government.
- Access mentors and volunteers.
In a nutshell, the Foundation’s focus is on motivation, training, and empowerment of people to solve their water crisis through their own efforts.
what is the outcome after one year of work?
116 villages across three talukas of Maharashtra competed to make their village water-sufficient in 2016. The total water storage created by the competing villages was 1,368 crore liters of water which is equal to 13,68,000 tankers of water. This is equal to ₹272 crore worth of water which the country has saved annually.
In 2017, more than 1,300 villages are participating in the “Satyamev Jayate (Water) Cup”.
The Paani foundation has visited several villages and through the active participation of villagers, and with help from politicians and the administration, they have changed the mindset of people towards water conservation.
The majority of Indian dams are in Maharashtra but the percentage of irrigation is approximately only 19% of the total cropped area. Big dams require huge capital investment and land area, which creates another set of problems like earthquakes, environmental issues, displacement of thousands of peoples from their native land.
The NGO is creating small dams to conserve rainwater which can be utilized for drinking, household purpose, and farming throughout the year. It also helps clarify certain ideas to people. As people themselves are conserving water, they know how much effort is required to conserve water, which ultimately helps them to use water judiciously.
After spending crores of rupees for water storage by the government in Maharashtra, there is no visible sign of water conservation. But using a diametrically opposite strategy, Paani Foundation is creating visible impact in the rural areas of Maharashtra. This can be used as a model by the Government of India in other parts of the country to solve the water crisis.