At 13, Sabriti should have been in school, studying for a bright future. But the teenager from Chhatarpur district of Bundelkhand, Uttar Pradesh has often had to trek for miles to collect water for her family.

She is just one of the girls from the region whose education has suffered due to the water scarcity. It was no surprise then that this region has been one of the most backward in the country.

“In 2010, Coca-Cola India Foundation, ’Anandana’, along with the NGO Haritika and Just A Drop UK came together for ‘Project Unnati’, an initiative to bring water and life to these villages.”  In the first phase of the project, 4 check dams were constructed in 3 villages of Bundelkhand, which helped replenish the ground water. By December 2013, the NGO had implemented two additional projects to expand to 14 villages located in the district. The initiative then went on to take measures for a more holistic development of the area. This included the construction of a checkdam, an earthen pond, distribution of solar lanterns to each household, installation of street lights, construction of a village road, school sanitation block and orchard development.

Nearly 12,000 villagers benefitted from the efforts put behind Project Unnati. And it is thanks to this project that Sabitri, and many girls like her, are now pursuing further studies, even if it means travelling to the near by town. Today, she even has the free time to read and indulge in doing things she enjoys.

For the region like Bundelkhand, a permanent source of water is always a problem because it is located in India’s drought prone zone.

It never had a permanent source of water. The ground water here had been tapped for agricultural purposes through boring, resulting in severe depletion. This was the reason girls and women had to travel for miles to collect just a few pots of water. Project Unnati hopes has brought a smile to the life of Sabriti. It hopes to change the situation for more people.