How Amla Ruia revived 100 drought-inflicted villages of Rajasthan 

Amla Ruia originally hails from Mumbai, but the plight of people in Rajasthan drove her to move here and take up a cause. “I was aware about the alternate solutions provided by the government to people. Government used to provide water through water tankers, which was not a sustainable solution. I had an idea in my mind that I knew would change the face of affected area,” said Amla Ruia.

She decided to construct check dams in this area to make water flow better and to provide almost equal amount of water to entire village. She explained: “Rajasthan farmers are among the poorest in the country. Using rain water harvesting technology to alleviate the situation seemed like a good choice. It was important to involve the local community and engage them to make our model more sustainable.”

She founded a group called Aakar Charitable Trust to build check dams (temporary dams) for villages to provide regular water. With these dams, water was stored in large dam, but the entire process was more cost effective. Her first success project was in the village of Mandawar, where two check dams were constructed, which provided water to the villagers on a regular basis.

Her first project in Mandawar village showed great success and the farmers managed to earn as much as Rs. 12 crore within a year with the help of two check dams constructed by the Trust. After that there was no looking back. Aakar Charitable Trust has constructed 200 check dams in 100 villages of Rajasthan so far, which has helped more than 2 lakh people to lead a comfortable life. The water availability has helped them earn a combined income of Rs. 300 crore per year through their farming, animal husbandry, dairy and other related works.

The water from the dam is sufficient to supply regular irrigation to crops for an entire year. The farmers, who could barely grow one crop a year, are now able to grow even three crops. “For the first time, villagers managed to grow rabi crop along with a few vegetables,” she adds
With no drought, villagers are having better harvests with the irrigation facilities and have also started to indulge in animal husbandry. Today many people are keeping cattle in their houses as they have enough water and fodder for animals. With all these positive changes, the per capita income has also increased in these villages. People now have more money to buy milk, ghee and whoa, which was till now considered  to be luxurious product.

With their active participation in regional economy, state government is also looking at providing better facilities like roads, electricity, mobile towers etc. Every household has a motorbike and few of them have also purchased tractors.

Biggest issue of the country is migration; and this area has proved that migration can be stopped if facilities are being provided at the door step.  “Regular availability of water has controlled migration to cities like Delhi and Lucknow. Now, we have facilities that an urban family would dream of. All this was not possible without support of Amla didi,” a villager expressed.

What’s next

Amla and her team want to expand their efforts to other states as well. Much work has already been accomplished in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. The organisation is now extending its efforts in the backward Dantevada district in Chhattisgarh.

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