Partner Profile: Gram Vikas Nav Yuvak Mandal (GVNML)

Seven years ago, families and livestock near the great salt lakes of Sambhar in Jaipur, Rajasthan, were fighting for their lives as they suffered the effects of saline in ground water, contaminating their drinking water, with no sustainable alternative.

WaterHarvest was compelled to help, and found the leading organisation in the region of more than 30 years for natural resource management was Gram Vikas Nav Yuvak Mandal (GVNML).

GVNML was inaugurated in 1977 by a group of youths who were worried that the third year of drought (as 1977 was) would be push families and cattle to starvation – most had migrated to Delhi etc. Lead by Laxman Ji Singh, they repaired existing water harvesting structures, instigating a movement of collective community action.

In 2008, the effects of water poverty still persisted. So together, WaterHarvest and GVNML built structures to capture rain at home (Roof Rainwater Harvesting Systems) and in fields (Chauka Systems – square shaped embankments), supporting 93 and 890 families (of typically six or more people) respectively.

Kailashi Devi Balai, a mother from Laporiya village, rejoiced at being able to capture rainwater from her roof, thanks to the project: “I used to make 4-6 trips to fetch 40-50 litres of water from ½ kilometre away, every day. The wasted time walking and queueing and the pain of 12 litres of water balanced on my head was a heavy burden. Now, I have time to teach my children and I am free of pain!”

The project went on to provide 1,100 families with fodder (cattle feed), and taught 78 families good water management, who in turn, spread the word to others. In 2013, 1,740 trees were planted to improve soil nutrients; provide food, shade and shelter, and 50 ‘green volunteers’ were trained to take care of them.

With more investment from the community and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the project trained the governing Village Development Committee to advocate for funds from their local government ‘Panchayat’ and village ‘change-makers’ about the equitable use of resources, while self-help groups (set up by the partnership) from eight villages learnt how to develop new sources of income such as crop diversification.

GVNML has supported some 2,800 villages to date, but there is still lots to do, including securing Panchayat funding to build toilets following President Narendra Modhi’s ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’, or ‘Clean India Mission’ campaign, which aims to implement 120m additional toilets by 2019.

2010: 46 degree heat leads to emergency response

June 2010 saw record temperatures of up to 46 degrees leading to deaths across the country. WaterHarvest and GVNML stepped in to provide emergency drinking water and cattle fodder to 10 villages in the Dudu block of Jaipur who were on the brink of starvation.