Harvests of change

Women and children are among the happiest

 
Published: Friday 15 July 1994

Harvests of change

Water for all: a check dam at< WATER harvesting and the raising of orchards has an interesting fallout: the empowerment of women. With water no longer a scarce commodity, tribal women have started kitchen gardens and nurseries for grafting mango saplings. BAIF introduced a scheme to organise groups of 20 women and trained them to graft mango saplings. Now most village women have their own source of income, ushering in a new socioeconomic order.

Says Sarada Ben Mansu of Umarkui village, "I grow vegetables like brinjals and tomato on my patch of kitchen garden and earn Rs 2,000 every year. I not only buy clothes and ornaments for myself and the children but also for my husband," she claims proudly.

The grafted mango saplings are sold to local farmers and other agencies, including BAIF. Says Sayniben, a 40-year-old woman from Kavdej village, "I got Rs 4,500 from 3,000 grafted mango saplings. Besides spending on clothes, I also give money to my husband to buy fertilisers and pesticides." She earns an additional Rs 3,000 from selling vegetables. Sayniben has also started making vermicompost in her garden to avoid using chemical fertilisers. Sayniben's husband, Bhayjanbhai Shamjibhai, points out, "As my wife buys cloths and grocery items, I can concentrate more on providing education to my 2 daughters."

Another interesting effect of community water harvesting has been raised health consciousness, especially among children. BAIF has introduced a school-based health programme, where 6th and the 7th standard students are trained to chlorinate wells every week. So far, 164 schoolchildren have been trained and 364 open wells are regularly chlorinated. Vikrambhai Sonji, a 7th standard student of the Lachhakadi primary school, is aware that the amount of chlorine depends upon the diameter of the well. He also knows that the efficiency of the chlorine declines 2 weeks after the can is opened.a

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