Dieter Telemans

Rajasthan, INDIA

Rajendar Singh is known as the 'Waterman of Rajasthan'. He founded the NGO Tarun Bharat Sangh (TBS) which inspired a revival of ancient rainwater harvesting methods in the Aravali Hills in Rajasthan. Singh stands in front of TBS's first johad near the village Gaupalpura. A johad is a small earth dam that holds water following rain fall. The water percolates through the earth, refills the water table and surrounding wells. Singh got this idea from an old farmer, Maangu Meena, who said literacy was less important than drinking water. After the first monsoon, the catchment area in front of the johad filled up and the villagers were motivated to replicate this ancient idea. Rainwater harvesting became an approach for rural development and the restoration of the ecology. TBS helped with funding and topography studies while villagers contributed with free labour. Over a period of 25 years more than 10,000 rainwater harvesting structures were built or restored. The effects are visible today: wells and aquifers are recharging. Rivulets that had been dry for many years are flowing again and agricultural production and bio-mass have increased. This has helped to stem migration off of the land and also farmers are harvesting two to three times a year instead of only once.

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Dieter Telemans
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42.33 x 28.22 cm (300 dpi)
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