Johads – traditional technology brings water to Rajasthan
by Tim Willmott : Be the first to leave a comment
By reviving a traditional watershed technology known as a johad, or check dam, in the Alwar region of Rajasthan, local people have restored the ecological balance of the region. This form of decentralized water management has inspired a holistic transformation of rural life, making agriculture viable again, reversing migration to cities, re-foresting the Aravali hills and rejuvenating seasonal rivulets into perennial rivers. This local initiative has proved to be far more rewarding than conventional watershed approaches and the semi-arid landscape has undergone major transformation. Although rainfall averages just 620 mm in a year, wells in the area have been recharged to capacity, hand pumps are back in action and the so-called ‘dark zone’ of the 1970s has been turned into one of the brightest spots on the parched map of India’s desert state.
It began in 1984 with a voluntary organization that ensured the community’s involvement and participation and used traditional methods of capturing monsoon rains to supply water throughout the year. The johads not only provide surface water for drinking and irrigation, but also recharge dry wells as water seeps into the ground. They are very sustainable, self-reliant systems, and since the villagers did the work they feel a sense of ownership and therefore invest time in their care and upkeep. The areas where johads have been built now grow 30 million rupees worth of organic multi-cropped vegetables per year.