India's water problems are vast and complex and require a collaborative approach to solving them - one which sees all stakeholders working together, putting personal agendas aside to help transform the lives of those most vulnerable and impacted - rural communities. The current pandemic puts even more impetus on stakeholders coming together to address critical problems such as availability of safe drinking water & water conservation.
With the right intentions, partners can pool resources and work to their strengths, resulting in a highly impactful partnership. While many believe that such a collaboration is not possible, ACF has proved that it is in fact, achievable.
In 1993, the coastal area of Kodinar, Gujarat was severely affected with salinity ingress. Salinity had seeped inland up to 15 kilometres and the Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) was tested to be more than 4000 mg/litre compared to the recommended 350-400mg/litre by the Government. Intensive agriculture and over-exploitation of ground water were identified to be some of the causes leading to such high levels of salinity - as ground water sources were depleted, salinity crept inland from the coastline via underground aquifers, contaminating ground water supplies. Consequently, the local community had no potable water available and agricultural yield was adversely hit, impacting the primary source of livelihood.
ACF, on being acquainted with the problem, decided to take a holistic approach to addressing the salinity in water. An effective model was created to tackle the problem from both the demand and supply sides - On one hand, building infrastructure for mass water harvesting and on the other, mobilising and collectivising farmers to harness drip irrigation and promoting drinking water solutions to ensure sufficient drinking water for the community.
The entire region is, however, home to around 200,000 people, and therefore the sheer scale of the problem required a collaborative approach. Having spent 3 years trialing and perfecting a model of intervention, ACF approached the Sir Ratan Tata Trust, and together they pooled resources including funding, technical expertise, and innovative ideas to reach out to 103 villages.
Within just 6 years the partnership was able to showcase a strong model and impact, which convinced the Gujarat Government to also get involved, providing 60-80% of funding for future measures.
Today, the Coastal Salinity Prevention Cell (CSPC) has been established - a coordinating body that focuses on policy and programs at a macro level across the Gujarat coastline. The CSPC comprises of ACF, Sir Ratan Tata Trust, Aga Khan Rural Development, GGRC and the Gujarat State Government.
- Sustained, long term efforts brought down TDS level from 4000 mg/litre to 1200 mg/litre.
- 226 check dams built
- Over 3970 roof rainwater harvesting structures built.
- 2817 farmers converted to drip irrigation and have covered 12657 acres area
- 69.26 KM of Canals to interlink Ponds, rivers and Bandharas
- 119 Ponds Built
- 1268 percolation wells & well recharges
- Created Water storage capacity close to 38.78 million cubic meters of water back to the community
- Availability of water in communities increased from just 4 in monsoons to , during 8 months post monsoon.
By putting agendas aside and working together, ACF, Sir Ratan Tata Trust, Government of Gujarat and the local people have successfully worked together to transform the region.
Today, more than ever, there is a need for more partners with an aligned vision to come together and #partner4water to collectively solve the water issues of the country.
To partner with ACF in tackling water issues across rural India, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org