Tucked away on the far flung hills of Palghar district, the small Warli hamlet of Wangadpada had been facing serve water woes for over a decade. In this period, the women from the community walked for hours to the nearest natural spring or well with earthen pots stacks on their heads for every drop of water required for their daily lives.
As this precious water was essential for numerous daily activities including cooking, drinking, bathing, livestock requirements and their minimal agricultural needs, they had to make multiple trips every day, which took up a large part of their days.
When the tribal hamlet faced its toughest drought in 2018, the community decided to come together, use their traditional knowledge and find a solution for their woes. In just a month, the villagers, with the support of the local non-profit organisation Vayam, used their PESA status to create a water management plan for their tribe of 46 homes.
Two persons from the village were trained in the process of water planning and they then trained the remaining villagers. However, the community first sought the knowledge and experience of the senior citizens in their tribe and identified the natural underground springs that flowed below their village many years ago. Motivated by Vandana Wangad, a 21-year-old pregnant woman who picked up the shovel and took the first step towards reviving one of these springs, all the villagers came together in this effort and found a natural spring six feet underground.
They further strengthened it in a way that recharged the adjacent well. The community planned the water management in a way that allowed any water overflow or spillage to seep into the porous soil left in the area in order to naturally recharge the ground water level. The PESA village denizens have also been constructing mini dams near the well to ensure the water which was virtually dried off by the onset of summer lasted all year through.
In addition to managing this new and hopefully annual source of water, the tribal people of Wangadpada also strengthened the water spring they flocked to earlier and installed pipelines that would benefit 18 families in the vicinity.
The community has taken a huge step towards sustainability, self-sufficiency and prosperity after the securing their PESA rights. The women of the village have proven to play a very important role in the implementation of the management plants, thus becoming pillars of this project and the community, and their value is highlighted by their strength in their Gram Sabha.
Even though the impact if their efforts so far will be seen only after the arrival of the scorching summer heat, the 196 families in this tribe have been successful when it comes to finding a rare community spirit that can help them move mountains. Their resolve and grit will ensure Wangadpada becomes 100 per cent water sufficient in the years to come.