All living things – from people to plants and animals – need water to survive. This makes water bodies vital to sustain life on earth. ActionAid Association has been working towards protecting water and other ecological commons and promoting communities’ access to and control over them. Starting 2019, we are implementing a programme to rejuvenate water bodies in Dadri block of Gautam Buddha Nagar district, Uttar Pradesh. Being run with support from HCL Foundation, this initiative has been able to successfully rejuvenate seven ponds till 2021 – spread over 2.53 hectares of land – in Anandpur, Beel Akbarpur, Kot and Luharly villages of Dadri. During the second leg of this initiative that started in 2021, besides maintaining the seven ponds revived, we have taken up the rejuvenation of four more ponds in the district. Located in Ghori Bachera, Khatana Dhirkera, Luharly and Nangla Nainsukh villages of Dadri block, these ponds are spread over 3.22 hectares. We are pleased to share that these four ponds, once rejuvenated, would be able to have capacity of nearly 10 crore gallons of water and a collective recharge potential of 40 crore litres of water per year.
In line with our programmatic approach, we have been keeping local communities actively involved in this initiative, besides the Panchayati Raj Institutions and local police. As part of this programme, the identified ponds are first de-silted to increase water retention capacity and then bunds constructed or strengthened, as the case may be. While doing so, we make sure that we employ labourers from the respective villages itself, thereby strengthening local livelihoods in the process. We are also facilitating the formation of village-level youth groups to collectively monitor and manage the rejuvenated ponds.
The areas surrounding these ponds are also cleaned as part of the intervention and plantation initiated there. With nearly 2,000 saplings planted in the first phase and another 2,000 proposed to be planted in the ongoing one, this initiative is contributing towards increasing green cover and improving biodiversity in the intervention villages. Through continued engagement and capacity-building, we have also been sensitising communities, including children, on the importance of water bodies, the larger ecology and steps needed for environmental conservation.
It is heartening to now see requests coming in from locals from the nearby areas to rejuvenate water bodies in their villages as well. This is nothing but a testimony to how this pond revival programme has been able to simultaneously sensitise communities, helping them recognise the importance of commons and the environment at large!
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