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With 250 Check Dams This Woman Rescued 2 Lakh Villagers From Poverty And Tripled Their Revenue In 10 Years

Image Credits: Amla Ruia

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“The Future Of India Lies In Its Villages.” – Mahatma Gandhi

The economy in Indian villages is agro-based. However, the situation in villages has been deteriorating day by day due to bad governance, illiteracy, bad market and water scarcity. Four years ago, Devkaran migrated from Rajasthan to work as a labourer in Uttar Pradesh and Haryana to feed his family as he was not able to do farming in his village due to the acute shortage of water. Now he is back in the village, thanks to check dams built by Amla Ruia. He is now reaping three crops a year and he bought ten buffaloes, two motorcycles and a tractor.

Bhuda-Budhi check dam during construction and during monsoon

During summer, many villages in Rajasthan, a state known for its scorching heat and parched soil, struggle to get drinking water, let alone water for agricultural purposes. There are many villages that are not able to get water even for a single crop a year due to which many farmers are facing poverty.

In 1999-2000, Rajasthan had been reeling under severe drought. Amla Ruia couldn’t ignore the situation of villages in Rajasthan when she read about the poor conditions of the farmers there. She immediately started for Rajasthan from Mumbai. She visited many villages affected by acute water shortage and tried to understand the situation and ways to solve the problem.

While on tour in the villages, she saw many hills surrounding the villages. During the rainy season, farmers used the water drifting from the hills to cultivate their lands. There were no arrangements or any structure in place to hold the excess water from going waste. Amla Ruia wanted to root out the water crisis from the village. The only way this could be done was by adopting sustainable water harvesting procedures.

Amla decided to construct check dams to stop the wastage and flow of excess water. These check dams stored the water which flowed from the higher grounds from hills to lower ground during the rainy season.  Amla started “Aakar Charitable Trust” and began working on her plan.

“Rajasthan was reeling under severe drought. I saw the pictures of famine-stricken villages on the TV screen and I felt that I should do something for them. My father-in-law used to send water tankers and food to the villages. I thought that was not a permanent solution to the problem. I visited those Rajasthan villages and started working to solve the water scarcity.” said Amla Ruia

How do check dams work?

Check dams involve small masonry works and extensive earthen bunds. They are most effective in hilly areas where the whole hilly terrain will act as the catchment area for the reservoir. The rainwater coming from the hills are stopped and stored by the check dam. They are cost-effective and bestow tremendous bounty on the land and the people.

Gunda-bera check dam during construction and during monsoon

Rs 500 crore in revenue

Aakar Charitable Trust visited all the villages in the vicinity and explained to the villagers that the only viable solution to water shortage is building check dams. Seeing the enthusiasm of the trust to help them villagers came forward and extended their support for the cause. In the first phase, the villagers built two check dams in Mandawara village in Dausa district. The result: up-to-the-brim reservoirs filled with water. The farmers near the reservoirs were able to reap revenue of Rs 12 crore that year.

The word spread like wildfire in the surrounding villages which helped the cause. The trust and villagers started building more check dams in different districts like Dausa, Alwar, Sikar etc. In total, the trust built 250 check dams in 156 villages impacting over 2 lakh people every year. The farmers who were once not able to grow one crop a year are now able to grow three crops a year. The revenue in total from 156 villages is about Rs 500 crore.

Involving villagers in building check dams

“The people were not willing to believe that somebody had a clear agenda of helping the villagers. They thought that we have an ulterior motive behind the idea. It took some time to convince the villagers. Few of them believed in us. We do not want any work where villagers themselves do not contribute. Because, if they contribute, that means they really need the work to be done,” said Amla

Amla Ruia talking to villagers.

Villagers are involved in every decision from site selection to supervising the check dam construction. Amla made sure that the villagers are also involved in the construction of the check dams which ensured and increased the sense of ownership in the villagers. The farmers bear 40% of the cost in the form of labour, stone, gravel and water required for the masonry work and rest 60% is borne by the donors. Farmers take care of the maintenance of the check dam.

Impact of check dams on villages

“There are massive changes in the villages. All villages are earning a total sum of Rs 500 crores The incomes in the villages had tripled. The villages along had started animal husbandry along with farming, growing three crops a year; few of villagers had begun small-scale industries too. All the children are going to school, all the able-bodied people who migrated are back in the village. It is only the water that has done all these transformations in these villages,” said Amla Ruia

Calculation of revenue generation

The local supervisors visit each and every farmer in the villages and ask them how much land they have cultivated and how much profit they have earned after deleting their expenses. Now, Aakar Trust also started working in Odisha, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhatisgarh. The villagers call Amla “Water Mother” for turning their barren land into lush green fields. For more details visit: Aakar Charitable Trust 

Also Read: Andhra Pradesh: This Man Is Building A Self Sustainable Village In India’s Second Driest District

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2,00,000 meals served

KHAANACHAHIYE: Fighting Hunger In COVID19

95,39,369 Raised
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but how much love we put into giving.
- Mother Theresa Quote

Goonj Is Working With 1000’s Of Volunteers & Partner NGOs To Provide Covid-19 Relief In 18 States

Image Credits: Amla Ruia

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With the extension of the lockdown the crisis of migrant labourers and daily wagers has just grown bigger due to uncertainty and fear of future. In the migrant colonies, slums and for people in the villages hunger and desperation is building up day by day. This is high time we step up our efforts to support our people who are in dire need of food and hygiene essentials to survive the pandemic, Covid-19.

After the India-wide lockdown, a lot of jobless migrant workers are stuck in cities with hardly any resources while many started retreating back to their villages. With the loss of livelihoods, a large number of them are now struggling to support their families.

Goonj activated its pan India teams and a pan India network of partner organizations and volunteers in urban and rural India. This network, built over the last two decades, helps them learn from the ground, reach material quickly and review and adapt strategy periodically. Intensifying this network has helped Goonj reach and start work across 17produced states/UT in the last three weeks.
Support the cause you care for. Browse All CampaignsBrowse all campaigns
2,00,000 meals served

KHAANACHAHIYE: Fighting Hunger In COVID19

95,39,369 Raised
Out of 1,00,00,000

Share

Goonj’s focus: 

Majority of the Covid-19 relief work by non profits right now is in the metros and cities but Goonj is the only non profit that is also simultaneously focusing on the people in the villages and the ones stuck on highways or somewhere.

Goonj is targeting daily wagers, migrants and other vulnerable groups, who even traditionally are left out like the disabled, sex workers, LGBTQ community.

“COVID-19 is a crisis, yes…But, it’s also an opportunity for us to build the society anew. Not ‘for’ the people…but, ‘with’ the people. And in the process, we will build ourselves too.” – Anshu Gupta, Founder-Director, Goonj.

Direct Monetary and Material Transfer

Wherever Goonj got the permission to open their centres for packing and disbursement of relief material kits, they are creating a kit consisting of 20-30 kgs material including dry rations, masks, sanitary pads and other hygiene material and reaching them to people, as per needs and as per regulations with all safety precautions. This kit will help a family survive for 30 days.

Information till 10th April 2020:

  • Distributed 15,100 ration kits reaching thousands of people
  • Reached 17,700 families
  • Supporting 12 community kitchen across India with 16,600kgs of ration
  • 77,800 food packets provided to migrant laborers and daily wagers walking on the roads across the country.
  • Provided direct financial support to 32 organisations
  • Made 42,800 cloth face masks
  • 24,900 cloth sanitary napkins produced
  • Produced 1500 litres of organic sanitiser

In Goonj’s processing centers its trained team of women are making cloth face masks and cloth sanitary pads (MY-Pads), keeping all the precautions and with the permission and cooperation of the local authorities.

In this lock-down phase if you are facing any difficulty getting sanitary pads or you are running out of stock, here’s a detailed but very simple process of making Cloth Pads at home created by Goonj. “This is how we make Goonj MY Pads.” This is how our mothers and grandmothers turned their spare cloth into pads.

This disaster, unlike any other, is unprecedented in its scale and impact and that’s why we all must do our bit with Goonj to continue its relief work for millions of people in this still unfolding long-tailed disaster.

The need is huge.. We are there.. Need You too !!

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Quote
It's not how much we give
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- Mother Theresa Quote
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