The Doom of Drought – CSR Impact Assessment study
A year has passed since the implementation of the project, planned to resolve the issues of water scarcity at Satara District, Maharashtra. Recently our Team visited the Satara District, to conduct a CSR Impact Assessment study of the Water Harvesting Project. This project was executed last year by our Corporate Partner.
Our Corporate Partner adopted the villages of Satara and aimed for community development at a large scale. In the beginning of the project it was found that water scarcity is the major issue of the area. Hence, the key purpose behind our visit is to assess the impact of the water harvesting project on mitigating water scarcity issues.
It was a hot bright day when we reached the village. We reached there a day earlier to arrange our accommodation. The temperature was as high as 38°C and the high humidity made it worse . As we went to fetch water from the nearby water tap we got stuck in the long queue. Meanwhile, we came in acquaintance with a few village women who were discussing the days of water scarcity.
A village woman, named Seema, shared that earlier there used to be a huge water scarcity. Satara has always been a drought prone area, since the time of their ancestors. The borewells would dry up and they had to walk miles for hours to fetch a meagre amount of drinking water. They would keep praying for some rainfall but the pain of water scarcity seemed never ending for them. Although their Gram Sarpanch had arranged for a water tanker within the village, but it was not sufficient to meet all their needs.
Seema broke into tears recalling those days. She also mentioned, they would hardly have any food left to feed her children. Due to lack of water, farmlands had become unfertile and only a limited crops could be grown. And the market price for which her husband and other farmers would sell the crops was not even at the margin.
As she proceeded in the queue, I asked her, “ Now you have water taps here? Does this help you in any way?”
I could see her eyes glittering and with a tender smile on her face she nodded her head. She further said that, after the dam was constructed in the village the water scarcity has drastically reduced. They do not face any problem in getting drinking water now-a-days. Even her husband has told her that this year they could sow a variety of crops due to proper irrigation. And if the crops do well, they would get a good price for it as well.
We were contended to know that the misery of the villagers had started fading. After fetching water, we quickly came back to our place and planned for the process of the csr impact assessment study.
In order to have a proper sample size to assess the impact of the project on the villages we selected 25 villages in Satara. We started our endeavour from the Water Dam, which was constructed for the purpose of Rain Water Harvesting.
We met the Gram Sarpanch, he welcomed us warmly and took us to a well. He told us that for the last 70 years, the villagers were facing the problem of water scarcity due to the location being drought-prone. He went on saying, “Previously the water table was 120ft. below and we could hardly fetch any water. But now after you have done the groundwater recharge the water table has come upto 60ft. and we can easily fetch water now. We are so thankful to you, finally I can see my people living a peaceful life.”
We saw few farmers working at a distance and along with Sarpanch we approached them. We could see them cultivating sugarcane, ginger and many other cash crops. We asked them, “As we all know it used to be a drought prone area, how are you managing to cultivate such a variety of crops now?” The farmers were very excited and they told us that during the desilting, the silt was used in the farmlands that indirectly has fertilized the land. And now the yield of the crops has increased and also the cropping pattern has changed.
Most of them have earned a good profit from their last harvest which has led to a 5 times rise in their income level. Previously they used to earn on an average of around Rs 20,000 p.a. which has now increased to Rs 1 lakh p.a. Their debt burdens have also reduced and now they do not have to spend nights starving.
After conducting an in depth thorough assessment, we were overwhelmed to see such a successful impact of a project. This community development project is highly sustainable and would yield similar results under the leadership of the Gram Panchayat. It has a long-term effect in terms of social, economic and environmental impact as well. This is also an example of community ownership and active participation.