World Water Day 2001
Natural resources are an integral part of our lives. This is because without the availability of and access to natural resources, peoples’ right to livelihood security cannot be fulfilled. However, in many cases people are not aware of the importance and of the various aspects of the use of natural resources.
This is all the more important in a state like Rajasthan (a desert state in northwest India), where many natural resources are scarce, with water being one of them. Over the last three years, Rajasthan has been facing drought conditions and this has been affecting peoples’ livelihood.
With this as the background, the CUTS Centre for Human Development (CUTS-CHD), Chittorgarh, Rajasthan, celebrated the World Water Day with “The right to water and its linkage with the right to livelihood security” as its theme. Every year, the 22nd of March is celebrated as the World Water Day.
To deliberate on basic issues of conservation of water by community activity and participation, and how these issues are linked to the right to livelihood security, particularly for those from weaker and disadvantaged sections of the society, so as to evolve and take forward well-argued viewpoints and grassroots concerns on the management of natural resources and livelihood security in rural Rajasthan to the development community at large.
On Friday, the 23rd March 2001, a public awareness meeting was organised at Pemdiya Kheda village in Nimbahera block of Chittorgarh district. The meeting took place on the bank of a Talab (small lake). More than 1,200 people from adjoining villages, from different communities and from other parts of the district participated in the event. Many of them were women, who are actively associated with the activities of CUTS-CHD. Dhanna Singh Rawat, Programme Officer of CUTS-CHD coordinated the proceedings.
In his inaugural speech, R. K. Sharma, Coordinator of CUTS-CHD discussed the importance of water in day to day life and common man’s problems due to shortage of water. Shashi Prabha, Deputy Coordinator of CUTS-CHD spoke about the linkage between natural resources and livelihood security.
Speaking on the occasion, Meghraj Jat, President of Nimbahera Panchayat Samiti (block level local self-governance body) called upon the people to take up issues relating to water conservation and water harvesting in right earnest so that in future they do not face shortages of food and fodder due to drought. He expressed his satisfaction by saying, “I am happy that CUTS has taken up the issues of water conservation and water harvesting. Given its reputation and professional manner of working, I am sure that changes will take place in near future.” He called upon the organisation to work on water conservation and water harvesting in different villages of the Nimbahera block and assured full cooperation on his part.
Bipul Chatterjee, Associate Director of CUTS called upon the participants to build up a movement on the right to water and the right to livelihood security from the grassroots so that grassroots views are heard and taken up at the appropriate levels.
Amar Singh, leader of the Rajput community (the dominant caste in Pemdiya Kheda) expressed his satisfaction on the interventions that CUTS-CHD has been making to bring social and economic changes in the village. He urged the organisation to keep on making people-centred interventions so that not only there is upliftment of the village but for the people of the village, from all communities and particularly women.
The participants decided to conserve rainwater by digging deep the lake, which is situated at the village centre, and also by creating awareness among the communities on water conservation and water harvesting. The meeting ended with token voluntary labour given by all the participants, marking the beginning of community participation on water conservation and water harvesting in Pemdiya Kheda.
Participants from other villages decided to organise similar meetings in their areas so as to spread the messages of water conservation and water harvesting far and wide. The organisation, on its part, assure them for support and cooperation so that a grassroots movement for the right to water and the right to livelihood security is build up in the state of Rajasthan.