'Self-Help for Water Security”
VFA Members Working On the Check Dam, Amalidabara, Netrang, Gujarat
- The Village Farmers Association, VFA, of Amalidabara in Netrang, Gujarat, holds up a fine example of how communities can channelize their wealth of knowledge and experience to create lasting solutions to long-standing livelihood problems. Under the RF-BIJ Action Plan, the VFA identified water management as a priority area. The first step was to build a check dam to stop the flow of running rain water to ensure water supply for cattle.
- The successful completion of this project encouraged them to turn their focus on to the village river. It had a stop dam and two gated dams but in total disrepair. Same was the case with a causeway that connected two hamlets of Amalidabara. Its cement gates were damaged. The community contributed Rs 5,000 and the VFA invested Rs 60,000 for purchasing new gates. The cement gates were installed but kept leaking. Attempts to plug the leak with plastic and rubber tubes were unsuccessful. That’s when an old woman suggested that red soil and grass could do the trick; after all, their mud houses stood strong even in heavy rains.
- The solution worked! The dam now holds more than 18000 cubic metres of water and provides drinking and irrigation water for 200 families in five hamlets. This second success emboldened the villagers even more. So, the VFA took up another check dam. The iron gates of this dam were taken away by villagers for personal use. The VFA recovered all the ten gates and revived the dam which now stores 23,000 cubic metres of water. The six-member VFA committee, including one woman, manages and maintains these structures. Detailed bylaws have been prepared outlining the usage of water.
- “Earlier we did not get enough water to sow Rabi crops like gram and wheat. This year, our work has generated large quantities of water and 17 farmers have sowed in the Rabi season. They are able to irrigate the fields six times – this has never happened before. They are happy as their Kharif production was damaged due to high rainfall. They will now be able to meet the families’ requirement with a good production in Rabi,” says Bipinbhai Vanjibhai Vasava, member VFA.