Rejuvenating Ponds, Promoting Ecological Justice – ActionAid India
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Rejuvenating Ponds, Promoting Ecological Justice

Published on: Thursday, 31st December 2020

Author: Priyanka Khullar

Water bodies bring prosperity to communities and contribute to biodiversity, thereby helping sustain life on Earth. Unfortunately, for long, we have not treated them well. Unchecked human activities have choked several water bodies and polluted their waters. ActionAid Association has been working towards protecting these ecological commons from encroachment and promoting communities’ access to and control over them.

In 2019, with support from HCL Foundation, we started an initiative to rejuvenate and conserve water bodies in Dadri block of Gautam Buddha Nagar district, Uttar Pradesh. As part of this initiative, together with the community and Panchayati Raj Institution (PRI) members, we identified six ponds needing revival in Anandpur, Beel Akbarpur and Kot villages in Dadri. We started rejuvenating them and increasing green cover in their immediate surroundings. The ponds were de-silted to increase water retention capacity and bunds constructed/strengthened. As part of this pond revival programme, the surrounding areas were also cleaned, and plantation initiated in those spaces.

In line with our approach to keep local communities central to all our interventions, we have ensured community involvement at all stages of this initiative. Through continued training, capacity-building and engagement, we helped enhance the understanding of community members on ecology, commons and steps towards environmental conservation. Encouraged and capacitated, the youth from within the community came together and formed village-level youth groups. These young community-based volunteers have played an instrumental role in not just the rejuvenation of water commons but also in monitoring, maintaining and collectively managing the ponds. The local administration has also been complementing our efforts in this programme.

You would be pleased to learn that once successfully rejuvenated, these six ponds – spread over a total of 2.44 hectares of land – will be able to store over 12.8 million gallons of water. The improved water levels in these ponds have led to enhanced water availability for the local communities for drinking and irrigation, besides contributing to ecological balance. Moreover, 1,700 saplings have been planted along the pond peripheries and in the adjoining areas. That’s not all! These revived water bodies are also now witnessing an increased number of birds in their vicinity. Given the changing landscape, you can now see community members strolling around these beautiful ponds which till a few months back was unimaginable!