Water is a fundamental resource, essential for life and livelihoods. In many parts of Jharkhand, access to clean and reliable water sources remains a significant challenge, affecting communities, agriculture, and livestock. Recognizing this critical need, Karuna-Shechen has embarked on a mission to build ponds and wells that would serve as sustainable water sources, benefiting the local community in multiple ways. It is in this context that we constructed a pond in collaboration with the Silaighati community.
The Village of Silaighati
Silaighati is a clustered village located in the Baruhatu area, in the Kuchai block of the Kharsawan District. It is situated 30 km away from the main town of Kuchai. This small village has approximately 24 households, with the majority of its population living below the poverty line. Compared to other intervention areas in Jharkhand, the village is located on a hilltop and presents a different geographical environment. For a long time, the village had limited access to water, and obtaining water throughout the year was a tremendous challenge.
A Participatory Construction Approach
A community meeting was organized in February 2023, during which villagers discussed their concerns about water scarcity and how a pond could improve their lives.
The project team, in collaboration with the community, conducted a thorough site assessment to determine the most suitable location for the pond. By the end of February, the pond construction commenced. The location of the pond itself is unique, situated between two small hills. Local volunteers actively engaged in the construction process, establishing a sense of communal ownership. The community also proposed connecting the pond’s water to their village via pipes for agriculture and domestic use.
Once the pipes are laid from the pond to our village, we will have access to water year-round. We have not started the process yet because we are busy with our rice plantation. We will now be able to cultivate a wide variety of crops without the fear of water scarcity.Itwa Munda, resident of Silaighati
- Create a Sustainable Water Source: To provide the community with a reliable and sustainable water source available throughout the year. The design of the pond is tailored to local conditions, ensuring adequate water retention during dry seasons and flood prevention measures during heavy rains.
- Support Agriculture: By creating an additional water source that farmers can now access to irrigate their fields, agricultural productivity has significantly increased.
- Provide Water for Livestock: Consistent water supply also prevents dehydration, malnutrition, and diseases in livestock, contributing to the community’s food security.
- Community Access: The pond serves as a versatile community space, catering to domestic needs and recreational activities.
Several Challenges Faced
Delays Due to Unpredictable Weather: Unpredictable weather conditions, particularly during monsoon seasons, occasionally led to construction delays. Sudden and sometimes torrential rains could disrupt construction work, resulting in unplanned setbacks. It was essential to take measures to protect the construction site from the elements and ensure the safety of workers.
Community Coordination: Ensuring active community involvement and coordination required continuous effort. It was crucial to raise awareness within the community about the importance of the pond, gather their feedback, and address their needs and concerns throughout the project. Regular meetings were held to discuss progress, resolve potential issues, and ensure that the community felt fully engaged in the project.
A Sustainable Water Source
The construction of the pond in Silaighati was completed in June 2023, marking a significant milestone in improving the community’s living conditions. Now, the pond serves as a sustainable water source, meeting the fundamental needs of the residents year-round.
Local farmers now have access to a reliable water source to irrigate their crops, significantly boosting agricultural yields. Crops thrive with a consistent water supply, reducing vulnerability to seasonal droughts.
Animals in the area also benefit, as improved access to water contributes to their overall health. This is crucial for local farmers who rely on their livestock for their livelihoods.
One year earlier, in December 2022, we further supported the community by providing a water filter. This initiative aimed to ensure that the residents of Silaighati have access to clean and safe drinking water for their daily consumption.
For many years, men and women bathed in the same area, and access to clean water was a huge challenge due to overuse. I am also relieved to have access to water year-round.Sumitra Kumari, resident of Silaighati
The success of this initiative underscores the critical importance of collaboration between Karuna-Shechen and local communities in addressing critical needs. It demonstrates how a community-centered and partnership-based approach can create sustainable solutions for challenges such as water access, ultimately improving the quality of life for those who benefit.