Rainwater harvesting brings in streams of hope

Story type
Case story
Rainwater harvesting brings in streams of hope
Image: WaterAid India/Pause Photography

Fifteen-year-old Anusha is keenly aware about the importance of water conservation. “If we use water sustainably today, we can have a bright future,” the young girl, a student of class 10 in the Zila Parishad High School, said. Anusha’s belief stems from her experience in her own school in Telangana’s Sangareddy district where access to water has always been a challenge. Until recently, children had to walk to a hand pump one kilometre away to collect water either to wash their hands or to use in the toilet.

Unsurprisingly, it was difficult to practice what the children learned about hygiene and cleanliness when access to water was itself such a challenge. “Earlier there was no water supply for this school,” the school’s headmaster, Yadagiri, said. Then, about seven years back, after requests from the government, a hand pump was installed one kilometre away from the school in Terpole village. The challenge of access, however, was still not addressed completely.

 

Rainwater harvesting brings in streams of hop

 

Things seemed to turn a corner when a bore well was installed on the school premises. “With the bore well, water is supplied to the tank which then makes its way to the toilets and hand-washing stations,” the principal said. There was ample water available and the problem of access to water seemed like a thing of the past.

But not for long.

“In the summers the water supply started becoming lesser and lesser,” Anusha said. The challenges of the past gradually returned. “Students once again struggled with water problems but it was particularly challenging for the girls during menstruation,” she added. Unable to clean themselves properly and manage their periods with lack of enough water, some girls began skipping school during that time while others, whose families lived close by, went home to change and returned later, or sometimes they didn't return at all.

Yadagiri said that they noticed the water supply coming back to normal during monsoons when there was enough rain, and dipping during summers. This is when, with the help of WaterAid India and AB InBev, he and the school’s management were told about the depleting groundwater level during summers and the need to recharge the bore well. “They explained to us about rainwater harvesting and how it can be used to recharge the groundwater level so that we can have ample water supply all year round,” Yadagiri said.

With the construction of the rainwater harvesting structure underway, another problem that the school faced during monsoons would also be alleviated—that of flooding of its premises. “Our school is on a slope, which means that when it rains, the whole school is flooded for many days,” the headmaster said, “But now, as part of this rainwater harvesting, a canal is built so that all the rainwater is directed to the soak pit.”

When asked, Anusha said that she and her friends are thrilled to see the rainwater harvesting structure become a reality in their school. “We have been taught about rainwater harvesting and about water conservation. This is very important because it will help us maintain hygiene and be healthy. It will help keep the school clean,” she said. Then, with some thought, she added, “People should learn about water conservation. There is a lot of wastage and there have been many times when I have turned off taps while coming to school and have reported about leaking public taps.”

Happy with the turn of events, the headmaster also added that he is now hopeful of the entire village adopting rainwater harvesting. “It will help provide enough water supply for agriculture and household usage for the whole year,” he said.