Water-the most basic and essential element required for life to exist. Water...also the most abused, often wasted and mostly taken-for-granted natural resource.

What happens when this so-called basic resource is not available for miles around you? What happens when you aren’t sure whether you’ll have water tomorrow or not? Worse, what happens when a farmer has land but no water to nurture the crops?

Life and livelihood suffer. Living becomes difficult, literally. That is the story of Bundelkhand, an area that does not receive much rainfall. And even this rainwater isn’t utilised properly. There’s no water to drink, no food to eat, no crops to sell and no life at all. The result is an exodus to greener pastures (literally) for the months of summer. Villagers lock up and vacate their homes to lead a nomadic life for months together in search of water, food, shelter, money and life. In some villages, women and girls walk for miles and queue up for hours to fill just a few buckets of water and cart them all the way back.

This is where the Coca-Cola India Foundation, Anandana, stepped in to make lives simpler and livelihoods better for these villagers by setting up a series of water projects in these villages. It set up three projects in Bundelkhand to tackle the various problems faced by the villagers here.

Project Bhujal: A watershed project in Jhansi district that enabled the construction of6 check dams and 15 farm ponds, renovation of 60 existing water structures, and the recharging of 100 wells. The project created a storage capacity of 100 million litres of water, increased the cropping intensity up to 30 per cent, increases the ground water level by 2 to 5 metres and helped make 100 acres of land cultivable, resulting in an extra source of income of up to Rs.20,000 per acre.

Project Jalanidhi: A watershed project in the district of Mahoba enabled the construction of six check dams, farm bunds in 256 hectares of land, eight farm ponds and the recharging of 69 wells.The project created a storage capacity of 55,822,000 litres, increased cropping intensity up to 244 acres from 104 acres, made 165.5 acres of land cultivable resulting in four times increase in income of the farmers and increases the ground water levels by 2 to 3 metres.

Project Unnati: A water sustainability project in Chhatarpur district enabled the construction of check dams, earthen ponds and 42 water conservation structures and the provision of household water to 14 villages. It managed to create a storage capacity of 745 million litres and benefitted over 12000 villagers.

The resultwas miraculous. Lush greenery returned to the villages, even during severe drought. Now was the time for reverse migration as the villagers slowly started returning to their villages. They were now cultivating their own crops and managing to make a livingin their own villages.

Today, the villagers have steady incomes and stable lifestyles. They’re a lot happier and they can’t thank the Coca-Cola India Foundation (Anandana) enough for having thought about them.