Clean Water for Drought-Affected Families in India

by Gramin Vikas Vigyan Samiti (Gravis)

In the rural village of Rajasthan, fetching water from great distances is usually the responsibility of  the women of the household.  On average, they fetch heavy buckets of water twice a day from a distance of 2-10 kilometers covering these distances in the relentless heat of the desert. These women are not only endangering their physical health, but they are also consuming large amounts of time each day making it impossible for women to seek income-generating opportunities outside of the household.

Your donations go directly to GRAVIS, an organization dedicated to increasing water security in the area by building rainwater harvesting structure, such as naadis, which are low in cost.  These structures not only provide more security to the region, but they promote environmental sustainability since they are not depleting nonrenewable later sources.

Naadis are village ponds that were used in the communities in the past, but in recent decades they have been abandoned or silted up. GRAVIS is working to promote the de-silting of existing naadis and the construction of new ones to increase self-reliance and water security on a community level. The organization also encourages the village to preserve their naadis as a common water source by abstaining from polluting the water and giving individuals priority over the needs of the community. In the past year, GRAVIS has built 6 naadis structures contributing to the
238 structures built by the organization since 1983 and helping over 81,000 families.

The generosity of your donations impacts thousands of families in communities half way around the world.  More and more communities are now experiencing higher levels of water security thanks to supporters like you!

With your support GRAVIS is taking generous steps to improve conditions in rural communities in Rajasthan.  Recently, Suzanne York, a writer and Taming the Tiger blogger, wrote about GRAVIS' work to ensure access to water in Rajasthan including one project working to build water storage tanks:

"GRAVIS works in the Thar Desert, home to the world’s most densely populated desert ecosystem with 23 million people. Life is tough, with unpredictable rainfall, environmental degradation, climatic extremes, resource scarcity, few health clinics, and oppressive social standards for women. GRAVIS incorporates a holistic approach, focusing on water security, food security, health, and education, and reaches approximately 1 million people."

"GRAVIS, a local IDEX grantee with field offices in Rajasthan’s Thar Desert, strives to create self-reliant villages. One such initiative is helping implement a traditional way of harvesting and storing rain water to help Rajasthani communities. Using taankas, or underground water storage tanks, GRAVIS helped 20 villages construct these tanks that resulted in vastly improved water security during times of drought. At the same time, it eased the water burden on women.

A taanka captures, filters, and stores rainwater normally collected from rooftops. Each taanka holds 20,000 liters of water. Once a tank is filled, it can last a family for 5-6 months. Freed from the need to collect water, more girls are able to attend school. A win-win for the family and community."

To read more on how your donations help bring water security to local communities and to learn more about GRAVIS' work visit the IDEX blog featuring more from Suzanne York and her talk with GRAVIS director Dr. Prakash Tyagi.


GRAVIS has been working in regions of the Thar Desert for the last 27 years.  The organization’s key purpose is to help build the capacity of communities to reduce poverty of the poor and to lead those communities towards self-reliance and empowerment through education. 

With your support GRAVIS sets up schools in locations of greater need and ensures that the maximum number of girl children and children from lower castes and tribes are able to attend these schools. 40% of children studying in GRAVIS schools are girls. To date, GRAVIS has facilitated setting up of over 50 schools in the most remote parts of the Thar Desert. Among these, 30 primary schools are entirely ran by community members, further proving that education is a crucial part of any rural community and its development.

Moreover, GRAVIS is fully engaged in developing the capacity of local leaders in terms of identifying potential teachers and their skill-building to ensure community ownership.

GRAVIS has also adopted innovation techniques to enhance the rural education program. The curriculum on water and sanitation was developed and disseminated at all schools. Greater awareness was raised on the importance of health, hygiene and sanitation through the developed curriculum. Exposure visits to different administrative offices, historical places and voluntary organizations provide children with immense opportunities to learn and know about their surroundings and enhance their wisdom to become responsible community members

By supporting Gravis, you equip rural communities with knowledge and skills for lifelong learning that, in turn, improve the quality of life!

Working in over 20 villages, GRAVIS has implemented a “Drought Preparedness Program” in the Jodhpur district of Rajasthan. This program focuses on organizing Village Development Committees (called "VDC"s ) in each community- focusing on sustainability and long-term preparedness for future droughts.

During droughts, even seasonally, GRAVIS and its VDC groups focus on:

• Drinking water supply
• Sustaining animal fodder through communal grazing grounds and communal fodder storage
• Food grain supply for most vulnerable groups
• Health services mainly addressing malnutrition and sanitation
• Supporting farmers for the  crop season by providing seeds, manure and ploughing

By building taankas and infrastructure for community health initiatives, over 20,000 people have benefitted from programs focused on getting individuals and families involved, educated, and empowered to solve far reaching problems of rural poverty. Your donations go a long way- Thank you.

28 Taankas (underground rainwater cachement tanks) were built. Each Taanka holds 20,000 liters of water- sufficient for a family of 5 to 6 people for a period of 5 to 6 months. In an area of India that suffers from droughts, this makes a huge difference, particularly in times of crisis.

GRAVIS is compiling research for a report on the impact of drought on community health. This study will be part of an effort to train the community at large on how to stay healthy during a drought and what kinds of infrastructure (like Taankas) are key to surviving times of severely restricted access to water. Especially for impoverished communities, a shortage of water can be devastating.

Thank you for your generosity and keep supporting GRAVIS’ efforts to make sure these communities have the resources they need!


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Organization Information

Gramin Vikas Vigyan Samiti (Gravis)

Location: Jodhpur, Rajasthan - India
Website: http:/​/​​
Project Leader:
Gillian Wilson
IDEX Latin America Program Director
San Francisco, CA United States

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