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The small village of Idkidu has become an ideal rain-catching village by its efforts to restore the lost groundwater level. Shree Padre reports.
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December 2002 - Idkidu is a small farming village in the Dakshina Kannada district of Karnataka. It is blessed with ample groundwater. This has turned into a curse, though; with the shift in cultivation from paddy to arecanut (betel nut) and the steep rise in prices this cash crop could fetch, borewells were dug indiscriminately. Recently, the groundwater level has been shrinking year after year.

According to a water status survey conducted by Amrutha Sinchana Farmers' Service Federation (ASFSF), a local farmers' organisation, the 2100-acre village has 1/3 of its land for irrigated crop, with 364 borewells belonging to 230 farming families. This has its detrimental effect: Of 303 dug-wells, only 10 per cent (34) have water throughout the year, whereas nearly 50 per cent (152) of the dug wells remain dry for a period of 3 months or more. 10 per cent of the bore-wells (35) have turned completely dry. Yields of more than 50 per cent of the borewells (184) have fallen by 30 per cent or more in recent years.

Some of the younger people in the village have realised that this isn't a sustainable path. In the last two years there were two Rain-Water Harvesting (RWH) awareness workshops (slide-shows). ASFSF followed these up with two group Jalayatras, one to BAIF farm at Tiptur and another to Kanavu where a huge percolation tank has done wonders for the hamlet. Idkidu farmers were so inspired that they constructed four new check-dams. Some villagers, who had originally mistrsuted the slide-shows as popularity gimmicks, were influenced by the Jalayatras where the results were evident.

The villagers decided that since nobody knows the actual water status of the village, an in-depth survey to determine this would be useful. From June to August this year 15 volunteers conducted a house-to-house survey in their spare time. This unique survey also served as an awareness campaign. All the households are now aware that their water source is dwindling in a rapid way; they suggest different remedial measures themselves, starting from economy of water use to construction of more farmers' check-dams, harvesting rain etc.

Further, more than 20 households have started catching rain in a small way. In some houses the roof-water is diverted to the dug-well or bore-well, in yet others similar schemes such as trenching, percolating the water in drying yard, as well as attempts to recharge groundwater in several ways have begun. At Shanmukh temple, all the roof water is fed to a bore well as well as a nearby dry well. Explains K S Vishwanath, the Managing Trustee, "This serves as a demonstration for all the devotees who visit the temple." Krishnanand, who is recharging two of his borewells with run-off says, "rainwater from nearly two acres doesn't go waste now."

Amrutha Sinchana Okkoota
C/o Idkidu Service Co-op Bank
Idkidu, Dakshina Kannada District
Karnataka - 574 220
Contact : Dr KM Krishna Bhat
Tel: 0825 - 651441, 641179
In a public meeting called " Peoples' planning for Water Sustainability", all the RWH experiments were shown to peoples' representatives like local MLAs, the Zilla Panchayath Vice-President, DCC Bank officials etc. The people's report based on the Water Status Survey was released in this unique function. A photo exhibition containing blow-ups of rain harvesting experiments was held as a part of the function. The volunteers for the survey and rain harvesters were honoured by the presentation of books on RWH to them.

ASFSF has drawn the future coarse of action too. Points out Dr KM Krishna Bhat, the spirit behind these unique achievements, " Ten per cent of the village is occupied by our houses, cattlesheds and drying yards. We'll, in the first phace try to harvest the rain that falls around our houses to ensure that our dug-wells don't go dry in the future. A dug-well for each house is our next objective. At least in the monsoon, we wont take out water from bore-wells, thereby reducing the load on the borewells. In addition to this, we'll have separate committees to look after areas like roof-water harvesting, construction of check-dams, spreading RWH education in all of our schools etc."

Though at a very early stage, Idkidu has demonstrated that a motivated community can take up considerable rainharvesting work without govt support, if the right kind of guidance is available. ."We want to convert our village into a model for others to come and see different methods of rainharvesting, and of course, the community spirit too", Krishna Bhat hopes. With good publicity and many RWH experiments at a place, the little village has begun attracting people from outside.

Shree Padre
December 2002

Shree Padre is a member of the Centre for Alternate Agricultural Media. CAAM is accessible online at www.farmedia.org. This article is republished from CAAM publications with permission, as part of India Together's Space Share program. Click here to know more about Space Share