For over two decades, Asha S of Karnataka-based NGO Arohana has worked tirelessly to conserve water in her region.
In Kolar district, where water scarcity is rampant, she has helped 1,350 households divert waste water to agricultural fields, rejuvenated two lakes, and enabled rainwater harvesting in three government schools.
As much as 71 per cent of earth’s surface is covered with water, but in India, 25 million people lack access to a commodity so essential for their survival, Asha laments.
“It is everyone’s duty to protect water and act responsibly. We need to educate people on the importance and scarcity of water…need to act now to save our future generation,” she notes.
In the recently concluded India’s Water Warriors Award — which sought to recognise individuals doing exceptional work in conservation and protection of water — conducted by The Better India, Asha won the Jury Award amongst over 200 nominations.
When women step forward
Asha, along with the support of several other women from the village, also worked on cleaning and desilting the feeder canals in the region.
“We contacted close to 50 families, of which 35 came forward and agreed to help in this endeavour. We picked one woman from each family, and four men also came forward to help remove close to 3,800 metres of silt,” she says.
This, in turn, helped increase the water level in the lake. The groundwater table in the region also saw a significant increase in the level. “This work also helped financially support close to 35 families in a span of two months. Each person earned up to Rs 4,000 doing this job,” she says.
With the support of local organisations, Asha also participated in planting close to 1,700 saplings. Her aim is to install rainwater harvesting systems in every house in the village and create awareness on improving the groundwater recharge methods.
Asha considers S Vishwanath from BIOME Trust as her mentor and says that she has learnt a lot from him.
While she has accomplished a lot in the water management space, she says none of this has been easy, more so because she is a woman.
“It was also physically difficult for women to dig and be involved in such manual work. It took many conversations to convince them of the strength that each of them possessed. We kept telling each other that we can do it and all it took was a few women stepping forward and starting the work,” she recalls.
Watch how Asha is helping Kolar combat its water crisis:
(Edited by Divya Sethu)
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