COVID-19, high unemployment, and a crumbling public health system are combining to devastate rural communities in Bihar, India. Nalanda district faces a dire shortage of basic medicines, equipment, trained healthcare workers, food and work opportunities. FORRAD, our NGO partner in India, has been distributing food rations, basic medicines and equipment in Nalanda. But after weeks of COVID relief, FORRAD recognizes that what is most urgently needed is paid employment in the local area.
To provide work, and simultaneously, to restore water resources in this drought prone area, FORRAD, working with local, community organizations, is initiating the restoration of two pynes (river flood diversion canals) in Hilsa and Silao blocks of Nalanda district, Bihar.
In addition to generating employment, this pyne restoration will have the impact of improving water availability for agriculture, livestock and households, which will result in improved household income, food security and health. Normally, a project like this would use excavators. However, given the severe unemployment due to the lockdown, this restoration project will hire manual laborers from the local communities, providing more than 2500 days of work to excavate and restore the pynes.
Each restored pyne will be 1 km long, 4.6 m wide, 1 m deep, and require 2525 days of work. More than 4100 cubic meters of earth will be excavated to create storage capacity of 4 million liters of water. The 2 kilometers of restored pynes will provide water to irrigate 400 acres of land farmed by 200 small-holder farming and sharecropping households.
This project has provided additional documentation in a PDF file (projdoc.pdf).