- By Roshni Sekhar
As most of the villages in India are combating the water stress, find out how a village in Andhra Pradesh is reaping the benefits of effective water management and community participation through Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.
Rainfall remains a crucial factor in determining the agricultural productivity. The state of Andhra Pradesh which is primarily an agrarian economy is no exception to it. Erratic rainfall has particularly affected the agriculture output and caused water stress in the Prakasam and Rayalseema districts. Owing to the low frequency of rainfall, the annual rainfal received in Guruvajipeta of Kanigiri Mandal in Prakasam District remains scarce.
This water scarcity impedes the daily lives of people. Often the inhabitants of the mandal walk
5-10 KMs to neighbouring villages in search of drinking water. All these factors prompted the Department of Rural Development and District Water Management Agency (DWMA) to join hands with the people to culminate the water scarcity in the village.
Water conservation methods to meet the rural requirements
Inorder to effectively conserve rain water the government officials actively mobilised people and advocated the importance of streamlining water management through the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme(MGNREGS). The villagers were encouraged to work and toil to conserve water. Following which, the officials decided to take up 15 types of critical water conservation works including building of check walls and gabions along with plantation of trees. Further DWMA had made an action plan to build 27 rock dams, 15 check dams, 6 gabions, 1 cement check dam, 7 small ponds, 9 large ponds, 20 farm ponds in 250 acres. These works were completed within a time period of three years.
Later on 2,50,000 aloe vera plants were planted along with 45,000 plants of Jamun, Sitaphal, neem, teak and other 6 varieties. These plants were watered using the water tankers. Nearly one crore was spent to finish the works in Jodigutta region.
The commitment of officers and hard work of the locals have proven to be a successful model for other districts to emulate.The Jodigutta dry land has turned into lush green with plants. The high impact Watershed Scheme has resulted in higher groundwater levels and the neighbouring villagers have started using the handpumps for drinking water. Before most of the borewells were redundant despite digging so deep.This also had a direct bearing to farmers’ distress. Now the water is available at just 100 meters depth. Most remarkably, there arises no question of water scarcity even in summers in the Jodigutta region.
Additionally, farmers who have not cultivated rice for 5-6 years are now cultivating rice in 200 acres. Further Tur Dal, cotton, mirchi and other crops are being cultivated in 500 acres. By eradicating the water distress the village has also seen reduction in the distress migration from the village. Cattle now relies on the ponds to quench their thirst for water
Under the Watershed scheme, Guruvajipeta has received two Reverse Osmosis (RO) plants and farmers have received the agricultural assistance through the usage of sprinkler, drip irrigation etc. These mechanisms have increased the crop productivity as well as enabled the optimal utilisation of water. With these enhanced water management and community participation the village has proved to be a successful model for other water stressed villages of the country to adapt and emulate.
Roshni Sekhar is a Program Associate working in the Social Development Project of Swaniti Initiative with the Government of Andhra Pradesh. Swaniti Initiative, with its headquarters at Delhi is a development organisation working with Members of Parliament and State governments to improve public service delivery through research, data, project management and advisory.