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10,000 cubic metres of rainwater for the farmers of Girigetla

July 24, 2013
  • New project of the We Are Water Foundation in collaboration with the Vicente Ferrer Foundation in Andhra Pradesh.
  • The construction of hydric structures for collecting and using water is vital for the farmers of the semi-desert area in the south of India.
  • The project is of special importance after the message of the World Day to Combat Desertification on the 17th of June.

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The problems of farmers in the state of Andhra Pradesh, in southeast India, has increased in recent decades due to the instability of the system of monsoon winds and the loss of infrastructures for collecting rainwater, traditional in this semi-arid area of India since before colonisation. With an extension of 275,000 km2, Andhra Pradesh is made up of 23 districts constituting three large regions: Telangana, which is formed by 10 districts; Andhra, nine districts, and Rayalseema, four districts, among which are found those of Anantapur and Kurnool, areas where the We Are Water Foundation is working in collaboration with the Vicente Ferrer Foundation.

In this region, whose average annual rainfall is 940 mm, the Vicente Ferrer Foundation – and its counterpart in India, RDT/WDT (Rural Development Trust and Women Development Trust) – has for years been developing a construction plan for small reservoirs to collect rainwater. These reservoirs become vital for overcoming the serious problems of rainfall in the region and are a key piece for the improvement of the economic conditions of the population. Additionally, thanks to its regenerating effect on the aquifers, they form a key element in the fight against desertification that affects these areas of the planet subject to hydric stress and scarcity of water. Under the slogan of the World Day to Combat Desertification on the 17th of June, "Don't let our future dry up", these infrastructures acquire special value and mark the model to follow recommended by the United Nations (See the newsletter dated the 18 of July).

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The fight against drought in India

This is the third project of the Vicente Ferrer Foundation in which the We Are Water Foundation has collaborated in India. The first, completed in 2011, was the construction of a reservoir in Ganjikunta, similar to the one now planned in Girigetla; the second was the development of drip irrigation infrastructures for the farmers of Mudigubba, a system that as well as saving up to 75% of water, also frees the women and children from the hard work of carrying water for the crops in recipients and enables them respectively to recover their work of social support of the community and attending school.

A key factor of the development programme of the Vicente Ferrer Foundation is to slow down desertification and recover the levels of the aquifers. In southern India rainwater has been traditionally used as an irrigation method through its storage in tanks. During the pre-colonial period, the construction and maintenance of these tanks was a priority, for governors and community alike. However, the high costs necessary for their maintenance and the lack of resources given over for these purposes has resulted in the current situation of the majority of them being very deficient.

In recent years, a change in government policy highlights the need to update the traditional irrigation systems. In 1997 the Andhra Pradesh Farmed Managed Irrigation System Act (APFMIS Act) was passed, a law through which the state government transfers, with certain limits, the running of hydric resources to the councils and users associations. Furthermore, in recent years the Indian government has passed laws with the aim of improving the hydric infrastructures that have served to boost the good relations between the local authorities and the Vicente Ferrer Foundation.

On the 17th of June, to celebrate the World Day to Combat Desertification, Ban Ki-moon, General Secretary of the United Nations stated: "Over the past quarter-century, the world has become more drought-prone, and droughts are projected to become more widespread, intense and frequent as a result of climate change. The long-term impacts of prolonged drought on ecosystems are profound, accelerating land degradation and desertification. The consequences include impoverishment and the risk of local conflict over water resources and productive land."

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10,000 m3 to irrigate more than 46 hectares

The new reservoir will be built in the town of Girigetla in the district of Kurnool, in the area of Pathikonda, in the state of Andhra Pradesh. Work began this July and the prevision for completion is July 2014. The project is based on the construction of a reservoir with a capacity of 10,000 m3 situated 500 m from Girigetla.

The reservoir will collect the water that comes from the local stream, called Lingalavagu Vanka, and will be used to supply a total of 23 wells and irrigate 46.34 ha. This project will benefit a total of 62 people belonging to 16 farming families who cede their land for the construction, contributing a total of 10 ha. Indirectly it is expected to have an impact on the 239 families of the area (657 inhabitants).

The results expected are to provide the farmers of Girigetla with a hydric structure to collect the maximum amount of water possible, and use it for crop diversification and livestock raising, in order to thus increase the quality of life and generate enough jobs so that the most disadvantaged can remain in their villages. In this way, the farmers will not have to move to the big cities since their land will be fertile again and enable them to earn their living in a dignified manner. (See more information about the project on the website).

About the We Are Water Foundation

The We Are Water Foundation, promoted by the Roca company, has as objectives, on the one hand, to raise awareness amongst the general public and the administrations about the need to promote a new culture of water and, on the other hand, relieve the negative effects related to the lack of hydric resources, through the development of cooperation and aid programmes alongside diverse organisations such as Education without Frontiers, the Vicente Ferrer Foundation, Intermón Oxfam and UNICEF.