Harvesting Water, Harnessing Life – Kotla Case Study
Kotla is a village in the district of Mewat, Haryana, India, located at the foothills of Aravalis. The area is known for having the greatest incidence of water shortages, and lowest literacy levels in the state. When the Sehgal Foundation began working in the area, it observed that the water problem was a cause for grave concern. The seasonal stream in Kotla has a vast catchment area uphill as it lies very close to the Aravalis. But without any obstructions in place, water used to flow through the village streets, bringing down lots of small rocks from the hills. Because of high ground gradient, no water collected and recharged into the ground.
After observing the situation in Kotla, experts from Sehgal Foundation suggested various solutions to correct the problem. The community participated in the discussions and came to understand the gravity of the problem. Together, they came up with solutions that could be studied and implemented with available technologies. The Foundation doesn’t believe in bringing an overnight change, but ensures that all small interventions are firm steps toward correcting larger problems.
To address the problem, the Foundation proposed construction of two check dams in the village. The Foundation asked the community to contribute to the project in whatever small way that it could, so it felt a commitment towards preserving the dams in the future. Community contribution was small, but the Foundation went ahead with the project and work was completed in June. The monsoon was not satisfactory this year, but the dams harvested enough water to raise the water table by 7 feet in the villages open wells.
The construction of these two check dams has improved the quality of water and increased the ground water table in Kotla. The Foundation asked for feedback from the community to ensure that villagers were benefiting from the dams. One farmer, whose tube well is over 500 meters away from the check dam, reported that his tube well is now delivering fresh water. His well used to deliver saline water before the construction of the dam.
Many other villagers also voiced their satisfaction. Mohammad Yaseen said, “The check dam has benefited a lot. There was very little water in the Masjid well, but the situation has improved beyond expectations.” Haji Rasula said, “I have seen the benefits of a check dam through the increased water level in my borewell. The water that used to go waste in the streets now percolates back down into the ground since the check dam has been put in place. The underground water flow is also benefiting the village of Kansali.”
Shaukat Nambardar said, “I have more water in my borewell and I suggest that more and more check dams should be put in place to further improve the situation.” Jaikam said, “The check dams built by the Foundation have directly impacted the water supply in the village. The water level in the borewells has increased.”
Following from the principle that success builds success, the community is now asking to enhance the capacity of these check dams. They also want another dam to be built at another site, funded by their own contributions.
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