Tamil Nadu’s Tirunelveli and Tuticorin districts draw water from the perennial river Thamirabarani, which is the lifeline for the people. It feeds 53 tanks in Tuticorin district and everyone is dependent on this water for livelihood. But when the northeast monsoon fails, the tanks dry up and there’s no water for drinking, let alone for irrigation.

The result –the land is parched, the fields dry and the farmers’ eyes look heavenwards. Tirunelveli is a paddy growing region and hence it does need water in abundance.

In its continued endeavour of water conservation and management, The Coca-Cola India Foundation,‘Anandana’dedicated its 150th water conservation structure (check dam) to the community of Cheranmahadevi Panchayat Union in the Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu.

The Foundation, in partnership with Srinivasan Services Trust, started a watershed management intervention programme in the Tirunelveli district for improving water use efficiency and groundwater recharge and strengthening ecosystem services. This watershed project covers around 1500 hectares and covers 3 villages, benefitting over 5,000 people.

A significant feature of these projects is the strong community thrust with women participating in large numbers and attaining a supervisory role as Members of village level ‘Pani Samitis.’ These samitis formulate and execute norms and procedures around the maintenance and sustainability of the project.

While it is just the beginning, there is all round positive impact being seen after the efforts under the programme. The Tirunelveli Watershed Project has increased the income of 231 dry land farmers from around Rs 4500 to Rs 6000. Another 623 cows’ milk yield has been increased from 5 litres to 6.5 litres per day. Out of 197 wells and 127 bore wells, the water table levels of 107 and 89 respectively have been increased from 2.5 to 5 metres. Out of 1242.28 ha of fallow land, 1106.7 ha, soil and water have been conserved. Of this, 65 per cent of lands were converted to being cultivable (through dry land farming, fodder, agroforestry, horticulture and others).

Most importantly, the average family income level increased from Rs 6000 up to Rs 10000 per month. Anandana has worked in several water-deprived villages of India for water replenishment, aiming to improve availability and conservation of water. The foundation has reached 382 Indian villages benefitting a population of over 5 lakh. The initiative underlines Coco-Cola’s commitment to working along with communities and supporting development.

Tirunelveli took matters into its own hands and decided to tap nature and water to its advantage. As a result the agricultural as well as dairy yield, and most importantly the average income have all increased considerably.