Soil erosionl



Ensuring Water Security by Renovation of Abandoned Open Wells

The cluster of five villages where NICRA project is being implemented by KVK, Sokhodeora, Nawada, Bihar has 28 open wells. These wells were dug in the early seventies under Government programmes and NGO initiatives apart from individual efforts as well. In fact the open wells were dug in response to a severe drought in this region during late sixties. The villagers not only used this water for domestic purposes but also for irrigating crops in a limited area. In the year 2000, the Government's initiative to install hand pumps reduced the drudgery of the villagers. Besides, a few farmers also invested in digging shallow tube wells for irrigation. However, this led to the neglect of the open wells to a large extent. Some of the open wells silted up over time while some caved in due to lack of maintenance.Once people started accessing water through hand pumps, many of the open wells were converted by the villagers into garbage bins while a couple of farmers filled them with silt thinking that these will be of no use when tube wells have been dug. Thus, the abandoned open wells were a source of stink and breeding ground for mosquitoes. The hand pumps essentially accessed water from shallow aquifer and most of them would go dry in summer following poor rainfall. This left the villagers with water scarcity as just a few open wells were in good condition to fetch water from.

During the process of collecting baseline information, the KVK scientists noticed that considerable area in the cluster of villages is irrigated by open wells. This led to the enumeration of all the existing open wells and their examination for determining the irrigation potential. Based on the existing conditions of these wells, a systematic programme was drawn up to renovate and bring  them back to use. Accordingly, the villagers were engaged in a series of meetings to bring awareness about open wells and their role in ensuring water security for the village. As a test case, two wells were renovated in the year 2012-13 and the response from the villagers was very good. Many farmers started approaching NICRA project staff to take up renovation of their wells also. A typical open well renovation programme consists of pumping out the stale water, removing the silt/garbage and estimating the cost involved in cementing the well walls and platform. Once the villagers will take up the responsibility of cleaning and commit labour towards cementing and brick work, the project staff procures inputs like bricks, cement, sand and stone chips for renovating the identified well.

So far,  seven wells have been renovated in this cluster of villages and five more have been identified for  renovation this year. The villagers are very happy with this intervention, as it has ensured them drinking water availability even in the midst of summer. They have also observed that the hand pumps near the renovated well have not failed  like those in other places. Despite this success, the project staff is facing some peculiar issues while taking up well renovation. Some of the wells are under dispute and neither party is interested in renovating the well. However, the efforts are on to convince the  stakeholders and encourage them to participate in the project. In cases where the wells within the village were renovated, the drainage line has also been developed leading to safe disposal of water. This has improved hygiene around the wells. In all, the well renovation intervention has been very well accepted by the villagers. This has also encouraged the project staff to  take this programme forward.





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