This green oasis is a drought-proof village in Rajasthan

The miracle was brought about mostly through the revival of traditional water-harvesting structures 

Published: Friday 25 October 2019

In the arid and dry landscape of Rajasthan, one village stands out like a green oasis. Lapodia, with a little over 300 households, is a drought-proof village and is located just two hours away from the state capital Jaipur.

Until 1970, Lapodia used to be like any other village inflicted with frequent drought in the region. But in 1977, a young man called Laxman Singh quit his school and got on a journey to fix the water crisis in his village. He first started by repairing a defunct pond in the village.

His efforts inspired young people from the village to join him. After meeting some success, he started an organisation that would harvest rainwater and restore ponds. The organisation was later named Gramin Vikas Navyuvak Mandal Lapodia (GVNML). GMVNL's efforts began to show results. 

The next step was to revive the degraded and dry grasslands as the people of Lapodia are agro-pastoralists and livestock rearing is one of the prime sources of livelihood for them. Therefore, Laxman Singh began to revive a traditional water harvesting structure, which was particularly meant for creating soil moisture and helping generate better grass. 
The traditional system is called Chauka. Upon being successful in regenerating big grasslands, over 50 villages have adopted this system for patureland development in the region. 
Lapodia has three water bodies: Anna Sagar, Phool Sagar and Dev Sagar. The biggest is Anna Sagar, which is 15 feet deep and is spread across two kilometres. Lapodia has become an example for Rajasthan. This is important as the state goes through long spells  of drought which also increases land degradation. 
Lapodia has seen a significant rise in the water table because of these rainwater harvesting structures. There is also an elected village development committee in-charge of the common resources in Lapodia. Water has also helped Lapodia regain its biodiversity.
GVNML has installed a small weather observatory in the village. Erratic rainfall events have increased in Rajasthan. The lowest and the highest rainfall in Lapodia in the last two decades has been 157 millimetres (mm) in 2001 and 865 mm in 2014. Lapodia is trying to adapt to the erratic weather induced by climate change.

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