From scarcity to abundance -Transformation of Krishna Dehariya village

By efficient harvesting of water, the communities of Krishna Dehariya village in Madhya Pradesh are not only able to meet the current water requirement of the village but are also prepared to meet future water demands. Strong local institutions helped transform this village into a water secured one, improving their lives and livelihoods.

Once called Krishna Dehariya, Kasai Dehariya, avillage in Agar district in Madhya Pradesh, got itsname for not being able to provide drinking waterto a poor man who was thirsty. Krishna Dehariya which hadplenty of water resources, faced a severe drought in 1942and water availability became a challenge. By 2010, therewere more rain fed patches, less soil cover, degraded lands,undulating terrain resulting in water scarcity for both drinkingas well as irrigation purposes. Women had to travel 1-2 kmsto fetch drinking water.Kasai Dehariya is a village with 127 households and ageographical area of 532 ha. Only 27 ha of land is irrigatedby four small ponds. The remaining area is under rain-fedcultivation. This restricted farmers to shift to crops like wheatand soyabean which required irrigation. Villagers oftenmigrated to other states and districts for employment aslabourers.

The initiative

In 2011-12, Rural Transformation Programme of the RelianceFoundation (RF) joined hands with the local communitiesto bring about a holistic, self-reliant and sustainable modelof rural development. With the initiation of RF interventionin Kasai Dehariya, the major focus was on institution buildingsince it provides base and empowers community to take upand sustain larger initiatives.Water is crucial for the sustenance of farming. To ensurewater security, the farming community came together to formVillage Farmers Association (VFA). Mapping the needs andaspirations of the community, the VFA with a help of RFsupport initiated water harvesting and moisture conservationactivities in Kasai Dehariya. Action plans were made based on the situational analysis of the village and the interventions were planned to conserve water at household level, farm level and village level.

Common Water Harvesting

The community realized that to bring more area underirrigation and make the village water secure, Kasai Dehariyatank (an old Talab) has to be de-silted. The silt excavatedfrom the tank –which is rich in nutrients was applied onwasted land. Around 57 hectares of waste land was broughtunder cultivation benefitting 77 farmers in the village.After establishing water conservation structures, the VFAcreated water user groups- an informal system which has itsown bylaws and committee to manage the water in commonwater harvesting structures- governed by VFA members. Thishelped in effective water management.Nearly one lakh MT of silt was excavated from KasaiDehariya tank to increase its capacity to provide criticalirrigation for crops. Increased access to water enabled farmersto cultivate crops in both Kharif and Rabi seasons. The areaunder irrigation increased from 27 to 242 hectares.

Water conservation at farm level

Dharti farm interventions were undertaken on 242 hectaresof land. Activities such as farm-bunds were taken up forconserving soil and moisture. Around 37 farm ponds wereconstructed to provide critical irrigation. Bund plantation wasdone to improve bio-diversity that aids in pollination.Improved biomass and soil structure have resulted inenhanced farm productivity. The net income increased fromRs.5,400/ ha to Rs.39,000/ ha.

Conserving water for domestic needs

During summer, women and children had to walk longdistances to fetch water. Analyzing the scope of getting waterfrom the Kumarpipliya dam of Dudhpura village which is1.7 km from Kasai Dehariya, the villagers planned to linkthe dam with common wells of Kasai Dehariya throughpipelines. VFA provided financial support to purchasepipelines, whereas the labour contribution was done byvillagers.Thus the drinking water was made available within villageboundary, reducing the drudgery of women and children.The water in common wells also enabled the women toestablish RNGs (Reliance Nutrition Gardens) at theirbackyard which provided fresh and nutritious vegetables forthe family.At a later point, the VFA was successful in linkinggovernment department for the implementation of Nal JalYojana which connects every household in the village withtap for drinking water, thus ensuring water security.

Model of change

The strong institution building of the VFA played a significantrole in replenishing the water resources. By efficientharvesting of water, the communities are not only able tomeet the current water requirement of the village but arealso prepared to meet future water demands without affectingecology.Besides crop productivity and income increases, there hasbeen some significant changes on the social front too. Thereis now increased enrollment of girl children in schools whowere earlier involved in fetching water. Above all, the villagers informally changed the name of village as Krishna Dehariya after achieving water self-sufficiency. They havealso requested the District Collector to change the villagename in revenue records for which necessary action is beingtaken up.

Ranchitha Kumaran and Sunil Shrivastava

Reliance Foundation RCP, Project Office, 1st floor Ghansoli, Navi Mumbai- 400701


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