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An Adivasi village plants trees and calls on their mountain God to overcome the water crisis

Story

By Chandrika Patnaik

25 October 2021

The Nuasahi village community undertakes natural resource management initiatives to revive the springs, protect their water sources, and ensure continuous water supply.

Women and men of Nuasahi village hold a rally to mobilize people for plantation and to spread awareness on groundwater recharge.

Photograph by Roshi Soni

Nuasahi is a small hamlet in Tarasingi Gram Panchayat of Ganjam District in Odisha. All the 35 households in the village have tap connection and spring as a source of water. From receiving sufficient water for drinking as well as farming two years ago, Nuasahi village community now struggles to find sufficient water even for drinking and domestic use.

The village receives water throughout the year, sufficient for household consumption as well as other domestic uses. However, during summer the spring dries up and the village faces shortage of water.  “Two to three years ago, we had sufficient water availability. We used it for drinking, for domestic purposes and for farming as well. We never had to depend on other sources of water. Now we struggle to fulfil the water for drinking purposes also,” says Murali Jani, a resident of Nuasahi Village.

Our work on natural resource management has been focussed on building on our understanding of new capacities for both spring and groundwater aquifers and taking steps to protect them. As part of our programme on Water Source Sustainability, we took up activities after discussion with the village committee and residents.

A close analysis of the spring shed area was done and it was found that the intake well is not receiving sufficient water as there is major runoff of water in the catchment area of the spring shed. The empty patches of land near the intake well area was where the most runoff was happening. A collective decision of planting around the catchment area near the intake well was taken. Village groups such as Child Club, SHGs and VDC came together to organise an awareness rally on the day of plantation.

When the discussion and meeting with the community was held, the residents discussed how the Forest Department was doing Plantation all over the reserve forest area. They discussed the need to do plantations around the intake well and catchment area and if the Forest Department could support them in it. Gram Vikas staff then took this issue to the Forest Department, and they agreed to provide 1200 saplings.

Upon hearing the initiative that the community has decided to take, the Forest Department, Tarasingi Range in Jagannath Prasad Block, agreed to help rebuild the village water security by providing the saplings for plantation.

Saplings of plants such as Simarouba (planted for its water holding capacity), Tamarind (as it is not cut off for usage by the Adivasi communities) and Amla tree (for its soil holding capacity), were taken to the catchment area for plantation.

On 13 August 2020, the child club organised a rally to raise awareness on water conservation and plantation. The rally was about mobilising people for plantations and to spread awareness about groundwater, the need to do plantations, and the need to reduce wastage of water. More women participated in the rally as well as for the plantation. They also mobilised women from the community to take part in the plantation. The women offered prayers to the mountain God before beginning the plantation and performed rituals.

The community managed to plant around 100 saplings over two days near the intake well area. All the work was done voluntarily by the residents over two days. They see it as an investment today to secure their future generations’ water needs in the times where climate change has affected natural resources.

The VDC and SHG members have taken the responsibility of caring for the plants. Through this activity they have gained an understanding of the need for securing their own water needs. They have decided to work further towards this by working on small drainages and runoff areas of the springshed. They will reach out to the forest department and MGNREGS for this work.

“20-30 years ago when we were growing up, water did not have any price. It was free, and available to everybody in sufficient quantity. Nowadays, there is a price to pay for water. We must pay even to drink water when we go out in the town or cities. The condition from 30-40 years from now will be more drastic. We need to take steps now”, says Mandakini Jani from Maa Changudi SHG.

Mandakini planting a Simarouba sapling as part of the plantation work.

Photograph by Dulabha Odandra

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

Reporting by Roshi Soni, Dulabha Odandra. Ganesh Chakravarthi edited the document.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Chandrika Patnaik leads on content production in the Communications team.

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