Management of Drinking Water in Arid Region: Community Action in Rural Rajasthan

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"Community management of natural resources has been an essential part of life pattern in arid region of Rajasthan. Scattered population in small hamlets, dhanles and majras renders it difficult for the Government to provide drinking water in every locality. The village community has successfully managed to survive and cope with scanty, erratic rainfall and low ground water table. However, the recent trend of increasing population pressure and depleting common property resources necessitates active involvement and cooperation between local community and the Government. In isolation it will not be able to survive because of population pressure and resource depletion. In the desert region, drinking of water is available through rainfall (average annual rainfall being as low as 5 mm) or through ground water resources. The rain water is stored and conserved in common ponds and reservoirs. These are maintained by the villagers, each family contributes in pre-monsoon cleaning and repairing tasks of water channels, ponds and reservoirs. This water is sufficient for two, three months in post-monsoon season. For the remaining months, villagers depend on village wells for drinking water. Such wells are very few and far between. In recent years, management of water from such sources has been done by the village community. Water supply schemes have not been launched in such remote villages. The village community renovate, repair and maintain such wells by group participation. As water table has gone deeper, water cannot be manually drawn. Thus, the village elders have given a contract to Diesel Pump owner, who operates the pump daily for specified hours. Families take water from the pump side tank. Animals also drink from a separate point. Each family contributes water charges proportionally to pay the contractor. The initiative to manage own water supply by villagers and readiness to share the cost must be extended to Government operated water supply schemes so as to make the same viable and sustainable."
common pool resources, water resources, arid regions, IASC