Resource detail

Title: Rain harvesting in Indian arid region
Organization:USAID and Jal Bhagirathi Foundation, Rajasthan, India

During the long dry season, in the arid Marwar region of Rajasthan farmers and herders get most of their water from wells, where water levels have dropped alarmingly. Marwar’s droughts starve cattle and cause mass migration of people and their livestock. Farmers are forced to pay a high price for drinking water transported great distances by tankers, and many fall into debt taking out loans from local moneylenders.

Initiative: With support from USAID, India’s Jal Bhagirathi Foundation helps communities design, build and manage systems that harvest rainwater that falls during the summer monsoon season. Communities have shown how to preserve some of the rainwater. The Foundation has also helped village communities better manage water resources by rehabilitating traditional water harvesting structures, constructing new ones and developing sanitation facilities for schools. Further, water groups have been formed to raise awareness of water management techniques, eliminate erosion and increase vegetation.

Outcome/Benefits: Since the program began, 82 water harvesting structures have been built, providing ample sources of water to the 17,000 residents of more than 200 villages. The rainwater collected in newly built small earthen check-dams has helped recharge wells, increase vegetation and food production, and, in many areas, brought displaced people back to their homes. In Alwar district, investment in such dams has resulted in a 300 percent increase in economic production.

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