Wise Water Solutions in Rajasthan
WaterHarvest’s collaborative book is available now
Across the Indian state of Rajasthan, the local people have developed a profound understanding about water and a wealth of wisdom concerning its management. The water management solutions represent the distilled wisdom of centuries of innovation, closely adapted to local needs, changing climatic, geographical and cultural conditions and the ways that people collaborate for survival and wellbeing. Now, WaterHarvest and its partners in the UK and India have drawn attention to thirty different water harvesting structures in their collaborative book, Wise Water Solutions in Rajasthan, which documents the amazing variety of both traditional and contemporary water harvesting structures across the region.
Combining tradition with modernity
Water harvesting has deep roots in Indian history, with excavation revealing efficient conservation methods in cities and settlements thousands of years old. The best results are often reliant on local knowledge – such as where the water flows best and which designs are appropriate for local landscapes – rather than simply imposing ‘top-down’ solutions. However, the book argues that ancient solutions alone may no longer be sufficient in meeting demand, due to modern water management challenges. These include, for instance, the rising water demands of a growing population, which is increasingly urbanising and industrialising. In addition, the rate of climate change is quickening, creating less predictable monsoons. Our challenge, therefore, is to integrate these traditional structures with modern solutions.
Three decades of solutions
Wise Water Solutions in Rajasthan grants an insight into the range of different water harvesting systems on which WaterHarvest has collaborated throughout its 32 year history. Many of these feature in our current projects. These include various types of irrigation systems, which help distribute water more evenly to crops. Irrigation systems can boost efficiency from the 10-40% of conventional systems to 60-70% through sprinkler systems and up to 85% with drip irrigation. In the desert regions of northern Rajasthan, meanwhile, the taanka is being implemented to store water for families to drink throughout the dry season. This can spare families from having to collect water from distant and unreliable sources. Dating back to the 17th century BCE, when they were built for community use, taankas can now hold over 21,000 litres of water for a family of six to drink across a year. They are often used in conjunction with rooftop rainwater harvesting structures, which filter out debris and help increase the amount of water collected. Similar details of the history, science and cultural impact of each water harvesting system can be found within the book.
A showcase of modern solutions for water management
Wise Water Solutions in Rajasthan acts as both a historical record of local wisdom and a showcase of modern solutions for water management, whilst also highlighting how far the work of WaterHarvest has come since its founding – then known as Wells For India – in 1987. The book is available to buy now from our online store.
This post was written by Robert Tucker on 29th March 2019.