Udaipur : Capturing rainwater is the most sustainable solution to deal with water scarcity in Rajasthan and specially when the technique is the traditional wisdom of the desert state. Rajasthan as one of the most water scarce region, according to Central Ground Water Board (CGWB), out of 243 blocks in Rajasthan 196 fall in the critical zone. This means that in these regions the annual withdrawal of water from underground is more than what falls as rain. There is growing imbalance between demand and supply of water in the state. As per international standards, availability of water below 500 cubic meters is considered as absolute water scarcity.
The annual per capita availability of water in the state is expected to go down to 439 m3 by 2050 which was 840 m3 in 2001 and against the national average of 1,140 m3 by the year 2050. Wells for India, (WI) a UK based NGO which have been working for 3 decades for the water cause, have helped people to deal with water scarcity through rainwater capturing techniques. WI with its partner GRAVIS, another NGO helped construction and repair of 895 taankas in Pabupura cluster in Phalodi block of Jodhpur district which has ensured water security to 900 families. These Taankas are of 21,000 liters capacity. Now 900 families have water source at their doorstep for a period varying from 9 to 12 months. “ The intervention has helped women in saving time, money and labor. Their working hours have reduced from 18 to 15 hours and now they can relax for around 9 hours a day as compared 6 hours in the past. The increased water availability for a longer duration has reduced physical workload, mental stress and health related problems of women” says OP Sharma, country director, WI. Tanka beneficiaries started to take bath and wash clothes more frequently.
The water use in washing clothes and taking bath has increased by more than 4 times, whereas the water used by animals has increased by 2.5 times. Moreover, daily cleaning of utensils and water storage pots has substantially increased. Above 70% of the tanka families have started using alum/chlorine tablets to purify their drinking water, whereas more than 80% of the families have started using ladle to take water from the pot. Last but not least, expenditure incurred on water for drinking and domestic purpose including the water for animals reduced from 2 to 3 times.
Similarly in Hilly regions of Bhinder block of Udaipur seen the significant impact on increase in irrigated area on account of mainly ground water / well recharge due to construction of small water harvesting works such as loose stone check dams, masonry dams etc. Prior to construction of these structures the total irrigated area under the command of these 39 existing wells (i.e. in 2004) was only 23 hectares., which has now been (upto Rabi 2016 ) increased to 80 hectares. Irrigated area is showing the significant impact of these small water harvesting works on increasing the availability of water.