Bijawar, one of the most water-scarce blocks of Chhatarpur districts in Madhya Pradesh, has a village named Patna. The plight of the people in Patna village can be easily understood by the fact that people didn’t get more than two glasses of water for their daily drinking needs. Patna is a tribal-dominated village, and any traces of government schemes and welfare work were completely impalpable in the locality.

On the initiative of an NGO, Haritika, a horticulture project was started in the village, which was met by skepticism by most, as the residents had given up any hopes of having their water needs met.

Yet, in spite of all odds, some of the villagers came forward to lend their support to the project, mainly because they didn’t have any other alternative. Slowly but surely, the mobilization skills of the Haritika team helped raise the villagers’ hopes that the intervention would help enhance the quality of their lives and livelihoods.

With the support of the National Bank for Agricultural and Rural Development (NABARD) under TDF Wadi, the development project was initiated in the village, initially with 20 farmers. However, in absence of water for irrigation purposes, the cultivation was not up to the mark. An intervention was required which could increase ground water levels along with surface water availability for irrigation and other purposes. The creation of borewells would have also been a futile effort, as these would also be unable to alleviate the problem.

It was during this time that Haritika reached out to Anandana- The Coca-Cola India Foundation, for a water replenishment project under which one check dam and one big pond were to be constructed.

This project changed the fate of villagers and brought out a new zeal in them.

Here is the story of a farmer, Kanhaiya Adivaasi, in his own words: “When project WADI was initiated in our village, I had huge doubts about its capacity to succeed.

I had migrated to Delhi to make ends meet for my family, but when I returned back after seven or eight months there was a complete transformation in my village! I saw the people in my village happy and prospering. It also encouraged me come back home and start farming here.

Kanhaiya, Resident of Patna

अपन ने हमाओ जमीन में 1000 पौधा लगाया है और बीच बीच में सब्जी भी बोउत जिससे परिवार खा पालने के लाने 500-600 रु० की आमदनी एक सप्ताह में हो जात। अगले साल हमाऊ पेड़ में फल भी होहे लगैहे सो लगुत कि 50 से 60 हजार सालाना की आमदनी हो जैहे, अब हमे लगुत कि अब हमे कमाने के लाने बड़े शहरों में जाबे की जरुरत नाही पडेहे और उते जाके दिक्कत परेशानी भी नहीं झेले के पडे।

(I have planted almost 1,000 saplings on my land and have also used techniques such as intercropping of vegetables, through which I generate a regular income of Rs. 500-600 weekly in peak seasons. From next year, my trees will also produce fruits that will give me around Rs. 50,000-60,000 annually! Now I do not have to migrate to big cities and live there in abysmal conditions. Now people from different places come to see our village, and it makes us all proud and excited about our future. I want to wholeheartedly thank Haritika, Anandana and NABARD for their praiseworthy work in my village).