This is a story of hope in times of despair. The story of a village full of diversity, yet one where tribes are marginalised and vulnerable.  But facing an identity crisis is perhaps the least of the worries faced by tribes from Kupiya Village in Chhatarpur, Madhya Pradesh. A severe scarcity of water was drying up any hopes for a prosperous future for these people who depend on agriculture as their primary source of livelihood.

It was here that Anandana- the Coca-Cola India Foundation, along with NGO partner Haritika undertook water replenishment work under project ‘Wadi’ – an initiative of the National Bank for Agricultural and Rural Development (NABARD). ‘Wadi’ is a programme aimed at helping tribal farmers with production, processing and farming capabilities. Interventions of the ‘Wadi’ programme address a number of key issues in tribal development, such as soil conservation, water resources and agricultural development, women empowerment and healthcare.

Pond in Village Agra near Kupiya Village

Here is the story of Kariman Adivasi, an inhabitant of block Bijawar, Kupia village. In his own words, Kariman sheds light on the plight of Kupiya Village and how a single pond brought waves of prosperity to his village.

“My household landholding was approximately five acres, but this land was in a nook where no water was available for irrigation. It made our land infertile and us very poor and miserable. When Haritika staff came to our village with the ‘Wadi’ development project, it promised to bring prosperity to all villagers with the proposed borewells and water harvesting structures. In keeping with the need of villagers, Haritika made three borewells but unfortunately, none of them were successful. By then, most people in our village had become hopeless and had abandoned their support for the Haritika staff.

However, some of us tribe members did not let our hopes sink. After a few weeks, and before rainy season a pond was made by Haritika with the support of Anandana—The Coca-Cola India Foundation, which was flooded with water from the rains.

We then reinitiated work on other aspects of project ‘Wadi’ with water available in the pond and planted saplings at our farms. Afterwards a new bore was made that has become successful because we have been able to recharge with the help of the pond. A solar water pump was installed in the bore due to which the communities in nearby locality received an abundance of water for irrigation and other purposes.

It was a life changing event for us. Now we all have reaped the fruits of our labour. My family members and I have planted three thousand plants and we also cultivate vegetables in our land. Since water is now available in abundance, farming work has come back on track. All of this has become possible only because of that pond which has recharged the land and has made this miracle a real possibility. Now we all are happy.” avers a beaming Kariman.

Two check-dams were constructed in Kupiya Village, which also helped raise ground water levels in the village and nearby areas.

Under project ‘Wadi,’ Haritika provided the farmers biopesticides, biofertilizers, fencing plants, and intercropping plants. They also aided them in digging pits within their land and planting seeds.

As the water replenishment project was based on a river basin approach, a series of water harvesting structures were constructed which created a recharge potential of over 149 million liters. This helped serve water to the inhabitants of Sigrampura, Amarpura, Agra, Ramnagar, Kupiya, Singrampura and Amroniya.

Avani Mohan Singh, a founding member of Haritika,Hartika is the first NGO to be associated with Anandana as an NGO partner.

During this association we have worked on seven projects benefitting Jaitpur Block of Mahoba District, UP; and Bijawar Block of Chhatarpur District, MP. Through these projects, we managed to create a recharge potential of over 2.5 billion liters in the Banne river basin region of Bijawar Block, which provides for the irrigation needs of nearly 8,700 acres of land. In addition, more than 600 million liters water recharge potential has been created in Kupiya river basin of Jaitpur Block that helped irrigate nearly 10,000 acres of land.

Together with Anandana, we have developed two model villages in Patna and Chandanpura in the Bijawar Block of Chhatarpur. Haritika, along with the people of Bundelkhand are very thankful to Anandana and hope that we will continue on our journey together towards development.”