Madaul village is journeying from water crisis to water security


By Joel Jose, Chandrika Patnaik

2 July 2023

Madaul village in the Ragidi Gram Panchayat in Odisha's Gajapati district is building water security measures for itself and neighbouring villages.

The residents come together to dig Staggered Contour Trenches.

Photograph by Bibhudas Gomango

The Madaul village in Odisha’s Gajapati district has been facing a severe water crisis for years. One of the 14 villages in Ragidi Gram Panchayat (GP), Madaul, got water from dug wells, borewells, a handpump and a public water stand post.

In 2008, Gram Vikas partnered with the village community to set up a piped-water supply system to get water for the toilets, bathrooms, and kitchens for each of the 61 households. The system pumped water from a local source, a dug well, into a central overhead water storage tank to distribute water through pipes to every home.

The new system worked well for the women in Madaul, who had, till then, spent hours fetching water daily. But after three months, the dug well dried up. The residents drilled three borewells to solve the issue. However, it failed as the groundwater level had fallen far below the bottom of the well.

In the following years, the residents approached the government through its Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Division (RWSS) at the block level but needed help to get the funds to dig a dug or bore well.

Gasi Mandal, 46, President of Madaul Village Development Committee (VDC), says, “The 61 Adivasi households met their water needs from three wells, a hand pump and the stand post near the Church in their village. Most residents walked kilometres to bathe and wash clothes at the Nenemtang River.”

Barring the stand post, the water in the handpump and the wells dried up to a trickle during the dry months till the onset of rains. The residents approached Gram Vikas for help.

Mobilising for water security action

Gram Vikas approached the Madaul VDC in May this year to undertake watershed work for groundwater recharge. When surface water, like rainwater, flows downward and percolates into aquifers, it helps in aquifer rejuvenation.

The VDC members agreed and decided to mobilise the residents for the work. Together they made a Water Security Plan keeping in mind the village’s unique landscape and natural resources. They also decided to monitor the watershed work to complete it within the scheduled time.

The VDC called a meeting of all residents in the third week of May to pass a resolution to dig 600 Staggered Contour Trenches (SCT) across four acres of land belonging to the village.

The SCT offers numerous significant benefits. Primarily, it conserves rainwater, prevents soil erosion, and enhances groundwater recharge. Additionally, it promotes overall land development by improving soil fertility and moisture retention.

The residents decided on the size of the SCT as per the Water Security Plan. Each pit measured two meters in length, 0.5 meters in width, and 0.5 meters in depth.

The chosen location for the work served as the catchment area for three villages: Madaul, Tuburuda, and Ukhuruda. They built the trenches 15 feet apart, considering the catchment area of the three villages and the regeneration of water resources.

Community leadership and monitoring

To ensure community participation, the Madaul VDC established an attendance system so that a member from each household could participate in the SCT work on alternate days. The VDC appointed two residents to monitor the entire community’s participation.

Abedana Badaraita, 52, Secretary of the Madaul VDC, who spearheaded the present watershed work, says he is happy that the residents will soon get water through taps after a decade of wait. “Nobody should suffer like we did. That is why we decided to do the watershed work on the catchment area, which would also benefit families living in Tuburuda and Ukhuruda villages. All this was possible because residents understood the long-term benefits of becoming a water-secure region”, he said.

The Madaul residents aim to achieve long-term water security for the 19 families in Tuburuda and 17 in Ukhuruda villages. Both villages are within a five to six-kilometre radius of Madaul.

Abedana acknowledges that due to the residents’ inability to raise funds earlier, they could not complete the laying of the new pipeline network even though the Sarpanch agreed to supply from a different source a few months back. However, this initiative has provided the villagers with a solution to this problem while benefiting water conservation efforts.

Partnerships for water-secure panchayats

Gram Vikas is on an ambitious mission to make 1000 GPs in Odisha water secure by 2030 through its Water Secure Gram Panchayat (WSGP) programme. WSGP aims to enable community-led water resource management and build resilient, sustainable and gender-equitable institutions. The Gram Panchayat (GP), as a federation of its constituent habitations, is the unit of implementation. It will build capacities of the local governance system to mobilise all households in a GP to manage their water resources effectively.

Azim Premji Foundation (APF) is partnering with Gram Vikas on this mission and supporting the efforts to make 27 Gram Panchayats in five districts of Odisha water secure. The project will build capacities for the village communities to estimate, plan and manage their water needs for WaSH and livelihoods. Ragidi GP, where Madaul is located, is one of the GPs that APF supports to become water secure.

The residents will use the monetary support from the project to dig pits and the main water pipeline and to pay for labour. They will use any surplus funds for other development work in the village.

Nagismina Naika, a member of the Depasikha self-help group in Madaul, says the women are happy with the revival of the piped water supply system, “It will reduce our burden of fetching water. During the summer, we have to walk a kilometre to the Nenemtang River, around a kilometre away from the village, as the hand pumps in the village also dry up.”

The Sarpanch of Ragidi Panchayat, Amoel Mandal, says, “Out of the 14 villages in Ragidi Panchayat, Gram Vikas has already set up piped water and sanitation systems in four villages – Engeda, Ragidi, Pindual, and Madaul. I hope they will continue supporting us in setting up piped water supply and sanitation facilities in the remaining 10 villages and also continue watershed work in this region. I promise to support and cooperate in approving and releasing funds whenever required. I wish to make Ragidi Panchayat water secure and sustainable for years.”

The efforts taken to make their villages water secure.

Photograph by Bibhudas Gomango


Prasant Kumar Sahu, Thematic Coordinator, Water Source Sustainability; and Ranjit Dutta, Thematic Coordinator, Sanitation and Health, helped collect data for the story.


Joel Jose is a Thematic Coordinator with the Planning Monitoring Documentation and Communication team; Chandrika Patnaik leads content production within the Communications team in Gram Vikas. Priya Pillai edited the story.


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