A barren, arid land with no water for cultivation, cattle or even drinking, and lots and lots of salt-that was all there was for the people of villages around Sambhar Lake in Rajasthan. The lake, once a brimming water body and the source of life and livelihood for the neighbouring villages, had almost run dry. The reason was scarce rainfall and a multitude of salt pans.
The largely illegal salt pans, drawing water from about 10000 tube wells, were pumping out around 96 billion litres from the lake every year. This increased the salinity of the water drastically, making it unfit for consumption.
Despite being surrounded by water, the villagers of this area did not have any to drink. No water meant no life and for an agriculture-driven area. That meant no livelihood either.
With a view to address the issue of a lack of safe drinking water around the Sambhar Lake region due to saline water, The Coca-Cola Foundation, ‘Anandana’ carried out the pilot ‘Project Santushti’ with the help of the Foundation for Rural Recovery and Development (FORRAD) and MANTHAN, a local NGO. The project aimed to create fresh water pockets all around the lake for rainwater harvesting, which would initiate a reverse osmosis process and recharge the water table with fresh water.
Watch this video to learn more about how the lives of the villagers changed:
The project created and restored around 31 water storage structures with a capacity of around 1.5 billion litres. But more importantly, the creation of these pockets inspired communities to understand the need of ensuring their own water security.
The lands weren’t just cultivable they became fertile and conducive to multi-crop farming. The villagers learnt to take matters into their own hands by doing their bit, families no longer felt the need to migrate the youth understood the importance of sustainable and responsible water use. Even the animals had enough water to drink.
The construction of the dams has also enabled a consistent electrical supply to the villages and the villagers have finally realised that the power does lie in their hands. Literally and metaphorically!