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Breathing life into dying ponds

Breathing life into dying ponds

AROH Foundation shows how a thoughtful alliance of people, resources, systems and policymakers can come together to mitigate the water crisis

Published on December 21, 2020 at 2:57 am

Updated on March 22, 2021 at 10:19 am

Engaging local communities to restore water bodies.

For hundreds of years, water bodies, both big and small, have played an integral role in our lives. But spurts in urbanisation and decline in agriculture and allied activities in the recent past have resulted in the neglect of natural water resources. Many have been encroached upon or transformed into a dumping yard. Depletion of the water table and groundwater contamination make the situation more alarming. Attending to this global issue at a local level, AROH Foundation has engaged with communities to revive dead water bodies in villages of Uttar Pradesh.

AROH Foundation, which was engaged in implementing Holistic Rural Development Project in 18 villages of three districts—Budaun, Bulandshahr and Firozabad, in western Uttar Pradesh, stepped in to revive dead water bodies of the region.

AROH along with CSR partner HDFC Bank explored all opportunities to restore water bodies for posterity and involved the local community, government departments and policymakers as an imperative stakeholder for the sustainable success of the intervention.

Dressed up with fencing.

Under the course of strategic actions, six ponds were identified, pond profiling was done, encroachments were demolished, soil and water testing were conducted by AROH’s experts. The ponds were dewatered and desilted, increasing its depth considerably, capacitating them of holding adequate water. Given the downward penetrating root system, perennial compost composition was used as a natural bund-strengthening and stabilising agent. The overflow from the ponds was designed to flow into the irrigation channel which irrigates fields in and around the village.

This massive drive of water conservation and augmentation, which was aligned to Jal Shakti Abhiyan, has rejuvenated 10 acres of pond, increasing recharge for around 298496375 cubic metres of groundwater. It also supported sustainable livelihoods, benefiting around 25700 people.
The areas around the ponds are dressed up with fencing. Saplings are planted, benches installed and staircases built. Such areas have now become a popular meeting place.

Rejuvenated ponds not only counter the water crisis but also offer alternate livelihood opportunities that come in the form of composite fish and duck farming. Committees of landless men and women were created and registered under Fishery SHGs. The members underwent capacity building training programmes. Simultaneously, in an attempt to increase water footprints within “Jal Shakti Abhiyaan”, AROH installed 18 solar run water pumps in every village, set up water posts in schools, tested around 200 hand pumps for their water quality, introduced lesser water consuming crops and farming techniques. AROH Foundation has been conducting advocacy of water augmentation and mass awareness programmes by forming “JalSamooh”.

A rejuvenated water body.

“Due to dry ponds, farming had become very difficult for us. The situation changed only after the water bodies were revived,” says Leela Devi, one of the members of an SHG trained in fish farming.
AROH promotes the thought that revival of existing water bodies, revamping water conserving structures can be seen as the most economic, effective and fast measure in the water conservation drives.

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