Bundelkhand is infamously known for its arid weather condition. For decades now, villagers from here have migrated to the cities in search of water sources, enhanced livelihoods, and the possibilities of better lives. They have travelled miles for sustenance, leavingonly the old, infirm and those too young to make the journey behind.

For years, the villagers have dealt with bad weather conditions, no food or water, and leaving their families and land behind. They would travel with their animals and make pit-stops wherever they could find water. They would attempt farming on new lands, and make-do with whatever little they could earn. The younger population, who was moving between the village and city to make a living, would buy the seeds from the city, plant them in their farms, then leave again to the city, only to return to find that the crops had failed.

Project Jalanidhi is the story of two villages: Bilkhi and Tola Swayam, in the district of Mahoba, Uttar Pradesh. The lives in the village changed with a simple idea: keep the water for your farm in your farm, and the water for your village in your village. In 2010, Coca-Cola India Foundation, ‘Anandana,’ together with the villagers held meetings to identify solutions.

It was realised that there was very little rainfall; the little rains washed away the soil; water levels of the wells was really low; and so irrigation of the fields was not possible.

The solution was to build farm bunds, as the land was sloping and stony, outlets, farm ponds, check damns and gully plugs.

Employment was created, as the villagers worked as labour and were paid for post-inspection by the organisation and the village committee. The initiatives have protected the villages even during severe drought and have helped in reverse migration as well.

As a result of Project Jalanidhi the following initiatives were taken up:

  • Construction of six check dams
  • Farm bunds in 256 hectares of land
  • Eight farm ponds
  • Recharging of 69 wells

This had the following impact for the villagers:

  • Created a storage capacity of 55 million liters
  • 165.5 acres of land made cultivable resulting in 4 times increase in income of the farmers
  • Increase in ground water levels by 2-3 metres
  • Cropping intensity increased up to 244 acres from 104 acres

Today the villagers of Bilkhi and Tola Swayam, are farming without any problems, and with peace of mind, that their families with be together, and together they will prosper.