In October 2018, IndusInd Bank partnered with ACF to implement a rural livelihood and water resource management program to address issues of water scarcity and economic poverty in 30 villages of Jaitaran block of Pali district in Western Rajasthan. This region is characterised by its harsh arid climate, erratic rainfall and recurrent droughts leading to a slew of challenges such as severe water insecurity, low agricultural and livestock productivity to name a few.
The project supported by the IndusInd Bank though its CSR initiatives, addresses water issues mainly through the construction of Roof Rainwater Harvesting Systems (RRWHS) and repair and revival of ponds and khadins. RRWHS have emerged as a very effective local solution to the problems of drinking water shortages, relieving women and girls of the burden of walking long distances to fetch drinking water.
'Khadins' are a traditional system (5th century) of water harvesting, indigenous to Western Rajasthan. Over time the ponds and khadins, had become defunct. Indusind Bank's financial support to the project enabled the requisite technical knowhow and engineering solutions to revive 12 ponds and 1 khadin. Community contribution is key to the success of the project, with the community pitching in with the manpower to support the project - helping reduce the need for labour costs.
In the first year of this partnership the total water harvested has been 9.87 Lakhs Cubic Meter benefiting 14,732 rural citizens. Nearly 90% of the beneficiaries of these water resource management initiatives are marginal and landless farmers, who have experienced enhanced agriculture productivity and an important source of drinking water for livestock. Women and young girls, now relieved of the burden of fetching water are pursuing education and exploring livelihood opportunities. This monsoon, the region experienced above average rainfall and it was a very heartening sight to see the ponds and RRWHS structures overflowing with water - surpassing everybody's expectations.
Livelihood issues are another key challenge in this region. Although Pali is a highly industrialised district, the level of unemployment and under-employment is inordinately high. The local youth are compelled to work as daily wage labourers, despite being higher secondary and even college graduates, as they lack the requisite vocational and trade skills. Recognising this to be a major gap, IndusInd Bank supported the set-up of a skill training centre, providing training in various trades such as Unarmed Security Guards, Micro Finance Executives and Customer Relationship Management. New trades such as Electrician and Beauty Therapist are soon to be added.
Till date 378 youth have been trained, 80% of whom are now placed in well-paying secure jobs with local banks, large and medium scale enterprises and microfinance institutions. Despite the restrictive social norms and customs imposed on girls in this region, the centres have witnessed over 27% enrolment of girls, a number that is expected to increase substantially in the years to come.
This is a great example of collaboration with IndusInd Bank investing in rural communities and harnessing the onground implementation expertise of Ambuja Cement Foundation to effect change and generate rural prosperity.