Karnataka is battling, what is said to be its worst drought in over three decades.

Large apartments, gated communities, and even schools have not been spared the harsh effects of dipping water levels.

In the recent past, water scarcity and drought have worsened in India’s societies and villages alike, with millions facing water crises every day.

Maybe it is time to take a page out of history’s books and check out the array of eco-friendly and sustainable traditional methods of water conservation that have not only saved millions of lives but have also stood the test of time.

Almost every region in India is blessed with homegrown water harvesting and conservation techniques that are tailored to fit unique geographical and cultural needs.

For instance, South Bihar’s Ahar Pynes are traditional floodwater harvesting systems that work as reservoirs to cut the flow of water and store it for irrigation and other purposes.

Pic source: India Climate Dialogue

These reservoirs are made with embankments on three sides that are situated at the end of diversion channels, which extend from rivers to collect water and channel it to the Ahars.

The water is then used for irrigation in dry months.

Practised by the Apatani tribes of Ziro in Arunachal Pradesh, the Apatani system is used to harvest both ground and surface water for irrigation.

Pic source: Travel Melodies

In this system, valleys are cut into terraced plots separated by 0.6-meter-high earthen dams that are supported by bamboo frames.

The terraced plots can be flooded or drained off with water simply by opening or blocking these inlets and outlets, as per requirement.

A slightly more well-known traditional water harvesting method, Baolis were intricate structures built by the royal families and nobles to help the common people and improve civic welfare.

Stepwells with intricately carved motifs and arches, and sometimes even rooms on consecutive sides, Baolis were either built at central points of villages or on trade routes.

With droughts looming large on the horizon, all one needs to do is take initiative, look back, learn, and re-create sustainable solutions for the future.

Pic source: Graham Crouch, World Bank