Dig­ging their des­tinies

Vil­lages in arid ar­eas of Vi­darbha and Marath­wada fight back drought by re­viv­ing nat­u­ral de­pres­sions along stream beds


Jcan­not re­mem­ber a time when she did not ANABAI KOHALE have to climb down a well in sum­mer to col­lect the last drops of wa­ter left in it. “There was a large well with steps all the way to the bot­tom,and ev­ery sum­mer,women would climb down it and fill their pots by scoop­ing up the lit­tle wa­ter at the bot­tom with a small vaati (bowl).It took at least half an hour to fill up one pot,” re­mem­bers the sep­tu­a­ge­nar­ian from Ghogul­dara vil­lage in Ma­ha­rash­tra’s Ya­vat­mal dis­trict.

Two decades ago, the step well col­lapsed, and the gov­ern­ment dug two new wells. The women had no op­tion but to tie a rope around their waists and let them­selves down the wells.“Some­times, my daugh­ter-in-law would have to go at night to fetch wa­ter.The gov­ern­ment pro­vided tankers, but they were un­re­li­able,” says Jan­abai grimly.

Un­der usual cir­cum­stances,this year,the sit­u­a­tion in Ghogul­dara should have been even worse than what Jan­abai de­scribes.This year, Ya­vat­mal re­ceived just 450 mm of rain, which is half the av­er­age rain­fall for the dis­trict.Cot­ton pro­duc­tion in the dis­trict is down to a dis­mal 325 kg per hectare, and no one is so much as think­ing of sow­ing the rabi crop.

The re­vival of dohs has stopped migration from Dhangar­wadi, an im­pov­er­ished tribal vil­lage of mainly sheep farm­ers


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