The We Are Water Foundation visits the projects in which it collaborates with the Vicente Ferrer Foundation in Anantapur.
The construction of reservoirs and the establishment of the drip irrigation system are the basis to eradicate poverty and recover the ecological balance of the area.
In mid-July, the We Are Water Foundation had the opportunity to travel to India to discover in situ the projects with which it collaborates with the Vicente Ferrer Foundation and to meet the team that is making it happen and, very especially, its direct beneficiaries, the agricultural families of the area.
Travelling to Anantapur on behalf of the Foundation were Xavier Torras and Carlos Garriga, Director and Project Manager of the Foundation, respectively. "It is motivating to be here and see how with so little help the Vicente Ferrer Foundation has been able to do and can do so much year after year", stated Xavier Torras in Anantapur, "Their members are an admirable example to follow for many reasons: the persistence and the ambition, the spirit of Vicente Ferrer and his wife Anna and also their son who has followed in his footsteps. And, in practice, seeing the specific projects completed which benefit so many poor and disadvantaged families is really encouraging".
The members of the Foundation met there with Visay Asrani, Director of Marketing of Roca in India and Manuel Herrera, Managing Director of Roca India, who accompanied them on the visit to the projects in Anantapur where the hosts were Ana Ferrer, widow of Vicente Ferrer, and their son Moncho, as well as Jordi Folgado, Managing Director of the Vicente Ferrer Foundation.
The projects of the Foundation in Anantapur
The members of the We Are Water Foundation firstly visited the Ganjikunta reservoir, the result of the collaboration established two years ago and which at this time was still without water, awaiting the arrival of the monsoons (see the completed project). This reservoir has a capacity for 80,000 m3 and the main objectives of its construction have been to recover the aquifers of the area and irrigate a surface area of 22.26 ha. The reservoirs such as the Ganjikunta one enable crops to be diversified and provide alternatives for subsistence for the farmers and livestock breeders.
They also visited the infrastructures of the drip irrigation system that forms part of the collaboration project currently under way (see the project) and which is going to help cover one of the most important objectives that the Vicente Ferrer Foundation and its counterparts in India currently have, the RDT/WDT (Rural Development Trust and Women Development Trust). The establishment of systems for the efficient use of water for irrigation, such as the drip system, is fundamental in the strategy that the Foundation follows. It is the stage that starts once the availability of water has been achieved via the construction of reservoirs like that of Ganjikunta.
The drip irrigation method consists of watering the plant drip by drip close to the root. This method reduces water loss due to filtration and evaporation. Moreover, instead of applying fertilisers on the surface of the soil close to the plant, these products are mixed in the water and are supplied directly to the root, achieving greater effectiveness and better results in the quality of the crops. Additionally, the system saves up to 75% of water, which can be used to irrigate new areas of cultivation.
One of the poorest areas in India
Anantapur, where the Vicente Ferrer Foundation has its base, is the largest district of the 22 that make up the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. Its tough climate is the reason it suffers extreme and continued water shortage which is aggravated by being one of the geographical areas of India with the worst irrigation infrastructures. Its population is more than three and a half million people, the majority of whom live in the rural areas. Three-quarters of the population depend directly or indirectly on the agricultural sector which is in a precarious situation. One circumstance that aggravates the situation of poverty in the area is the caste system which, while officially abolished by the Indian Constitution, continues in practice, socially rooted and determining the people's lives. Of all the castes, the lowest is that of the Dalits or untouchables, a large group of 160 million people who are excluded socially, since they constitute the lowest strata of society.
Almost all the rainfall that is produced in the district of Anantapur comes from the monsoon originating in the Indian Ocean. It is the second lowest district in India in terms of rainfall: 553 mm annual average and 70% of this is concentrated in mid-June to the end of September, the period of the monsoons.
The lack of water has been one of the main factors of the high levels of emigration of the inhabitants of Ananatapur since agriculture has become a not very profitable economic activity, and the constant degradation of the soil due to erosion alters the water cycle in favour of deforestation. The large majority of these emigrants end up displaced in the enormous pockets of poverty that exist in the big cities. The fight against this uprooting, which generates a great deal of indignity among people, especially women, is the main final objective of the Vicente Ferrer Foundation.
From left to right: Manuel Herrera - Roca India-, Jordi Folgado - Vicente Ferrer Foundation-, Xavi Torras - Director of the We Are Water Foundation -, Anna Ferrer - Vicente Ferrer Foundation-, Vijay Asrani - Roca India-.
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