Water is life
For the last four years, Rajasthan has been facing a severe drought. The extremely hot and dry climate during 6 months of the year, with temperature reaching 49 degrees, is a great challenge for humans and animals. Because there are almost no surface water recourses (like lakes and rivers) left, the habitants depend mainly on groundwater. The over-exploitation of groundwater as a quick solution for the great demand of water is leading to an increasing number of groundwater areas which are drying up (only 30 groundwater areas of 237 are still intact). But it is not only the absence of quantity but also of quality. A case study shows that 75 % of the villages are affected by poor water quality. This is due to the high concentration of salt and fluoride that occurs in the groundwater. The high concentration of salt causes diarrhea and the long-term consumption of water with high fluoride concentration causes fluorosis, which damages teeth and bones and can also affect the whole skeleton and joints.
What to do?
The purest water quality comes from heaven - it is rain. It is sweet, not salty and best for humans, animals and plants. In theory, we would have 136 l per day for every habitant of Rajasthan, if we could catch 2 % of the rainfall (500 mm a year).
The Rainwater Harvesting Initiative sets one example of using this immense potential of rainwater harvesting:
The first and main project was the Talab, which was completed in 2011. It was created to collect the water run flowing from surrounding areas through our ashram. It is used mainly in the school, the hospital and the Om-Ashram.
In our smaller Ashram there are roof water harvesting structures installed. This is an easy and efficient way of using the rainwater that falls on the roof. And it is also affordable for average people. For example: If we have one rooftop of about 60m2 and 500mm of rain (in one year), then we would have 30.000 liters of rain on this roof. From this we can, perhaps, harvest about 80% of the rain.
At the end we would have 16 liters per day for four people.
The Rainwater Harvesting Initiative also provided fresh water for needy villages and animals in the time of extreme drought (2009 – 2010). For more information read here or here.