Easing Women’s Burden Through Water Security

by Gramin Vikas Vigyan Samiti (Gravis)

Although rainfall was scant during the season, as a result of training provided on water harvesting techniques and drought preparedness, dozens of participating villagers were able to store water for a minimum of three months. This has had a direct impact on savings, so that each family has saved at least $35.

In addition, ten rainwater harvesting structures (taankas) were constructed, directly benefiting ten to fifteen families and around 100 to 150 people. Each taanka when completely filled is able to store 20,000 liters (approximately 5,000 gallons) of water, which can suffice the needs of an average family of eight to ten members for six to eight months. Most families must purchase water to survive and also send the household women and girls to walk for long hours to fetch water. Many girls are not allowed to go to school because of their water-carrying responsibilities. Each taanka saved a family approximately $115 annually, on average over 60% of the family’s income. All the ten taankas together save around $1,150 per year and 16,425 hours of arduous work.

Altogether, the construction of the taankas and the drought preparedness training has reduced the workload of the female population, hence 40% of the targeted beneficiaries have started sending their girl children to school.

Thank you for all your support for this project. To continue to support GRAVIS’ work please visit Project 2171 – Help women secure food and water in India.

Nakhtu Devi’s story In the village of Bamnu, in the state of Rajasthan, water is a critical issue and has a direct influence on women’s lives. Nakhtu Devi lives in Bamnu with her husband, together with her daughter & three sons. Her husband, Jagdish, is mentally ill so he cannot work in order to generate income for his family. Instead, Nakhtu herself has to go to work in nearby villages, as a day laborer to earn an income for her family. She earns just 1000 Indian Rupees (US$23.45) in a month.

Nakhtu was always anxious about what would happen with her family. Her children did not go to school, even though she wanted them to. Nakhtu had to work just half-day so that she could go home to fetch water from the nearest water source, which was about 2km (1.24 miles) far from her house. Hearing her story, a Village Development Committee (VDC) in Bamnu met with Nakhtu and saw her as someone who could use the support of a taanka.

As a result, GRAVIS constructed a taanka for her family. Thanks to the taanka, she is no longer worried about fetching water for her household consumption. Her daily tasks are less stressful now. She wakes up early in the morning to do some household work and then goes to work that she can now perform for a full day. As a result, she’s paid for a full day and thus, her income has increased. She comes back home in the evenings to cook for her husband and children. She has now purchased two goats for milk, providing more nutrition to her children.

She’s planning now to send her children back to school this coming school year. She is happy and less anxious about family. A single taanka has changed her life. Now she participates in her community and plays an active role in her village’s VDC meetings & mobilization of her community. Nakhtu feels self-reliant.

In setting up seed banks, GRAVIS uses local varieties of seeds such as Moong (Green gram), Moth (Legume), Jowar (Coarse millet), Bajra (Pearl millet) and Guar (Cluster beans), which are collected from the villages during harvest season and preserved in pots with ash, dry calcium carbonate and dried neem leaves.

Calcium carbonate absorbs the moisturizer of seeds, ash helps it to remain dry and neem acts as pesticide to prevent insects from affecting the seeds. The mouths of the pots are sealed with mud. This is how traditionally the local varieties of seeds are preserved in the villages. These seed banks are managed by community-based organizations like Village Development Communities (VDCs) and Self Help Groups (SHGs), which GRAVIS helps to form.

Since the last update, GRAVIS has constructed five more taankas. The five beneficiaries were the following:

1) Bamnu village – A family of 7 members whose annual income is approximately US$305. 2) Kolu Nimbayat village – A family of 10 members. The father has chronic asthma and only one member is earning any income. 3) Jemla village – A family of 8 members. The mother is the only earning member of the family who works as a daily wage laborer. Her husband suffers from tuberculosis. 4) Hempura village – A family of 7 members living in extreme poverty. 5) Lokayat village – A family of 5 members whose head of the household is a widow.

GRAVIS has constructed ten taankas (traditional underground water storage tanks), which has directly benefited 15 families, involving 100 t0 150 community members. Each taanka can store up to 20,000 litres of water when filled up. This amount satisfies the drinking water needs of an average family of eight to ten members for six to eight months.


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Organization Information

Gramin Vikas Vigyan Samiti (Gravis)

Location: Jodhpur, Rajasthan - India
Website: http:/​/​www.gravis.org.in/​
Project Leader:
Katherine Zavala
Program Officer, IDEX
San Francisco, CA United States

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