“20 years ago, we grew one crop of groundnuts a year – the crop was always poor because the groundwater we used was saline. Salinity had crept in 15 kms from the coast and we even struggled to find sweet water to drink. A government pipeline delivered drinking water to us from 30 kms away, but by the time it reached us, we had no idea of the water quality.
The harvest we had was never enough to survive on, so we all used to migrate to find work in other villages – mostly labouring on farms because farming was what we knew.
This was until ACF constructed check dams, renovated the waste weir, and ungated the Goma tidal regulator and recharged irrigation wells close to our farms. This not only helped provide water for the community but also helped recharge groundwater and push salinity back towards the coast. They encouraged us all to invest in rooftop rainwater harvesting systems which we did and helped us work with WASMO to install tap connections. And suddenly thing began to turn around.
It’s not hard to describe the difference between then and now. Before, the entire village lived in mud huts, but today we all have concrete houses. Once water came we grew 3 crops a year – cotton, sugarcane, wheat – and even got into animal husbandry. Today our village is considered 100% educated – all the kids go to school, the older ones have secure jobs or are attending college. All because of water.
Me? Where once I couldn’t afford to send my kids to school, today my son is a mechanical engineer and my daughter has a Bachelor of Science and is appearing for the government exams. Earlier I had just 3 bigha (1.2 acre) of land, but today I have 30 bigha (12 acres). Where once I was forever away from home for labour work, today I’m the ‘king’ of my own humble ‘castle’ – and we are all the happier for it” - Haribhai, Pipli Village, Kodinar, Gujarat