Amla Ruia also known as ‘water mother’ has transformed over 100 villages of Rajasthan by using traditional water harvesting techniques and building check dams. Notably, due to great effort and initiatives led by her changed the face of over 100 villages and brought the prosperity in farming, economy and lifestyle of villagers.
Interestingly, Amla dedicated her life to the farmers from the year 1999/2000 after seeing the poor life of farmers in Rajasthan which was going through a severe drought. Amla started her work by constructing check dams near the villages. Check dams, also known as khadin, are structures that involve comparatively small masonry constructions and extensive earthen bunds.
These check dams are most effective in hilly terrain where the whole hill range can be used as a catchment for the reservoir. They have all the advantages of the large dams and none of the disadvantages, such as displacement and rehabilitation of people, huge underutilized dead storage of water, waterlogging, a risk of breach causing extensive damage to life and property, etc. They are also cost effective.
However, Amla’s first official project in Mandawar village showed great success and the farmers managed to earn as much as Rs. 12 crores within a year with the help of two check dams constructed by the Trust. Later, Amla created funds of Rs. 300 crores per annum for 2 lakh villagers for these check dams by engaging the local community and started working in full flow for the betterment of farmers and villagers.
Amla also started contacting the villagers and spreading awareness about the benefits of water harvesting. Therefore, the villagers then contribute with money and effort. As soon as the dams were built than those farmers who could barely grow one crop a year, are now able to grow even three crops in a year.
As the income has increased due to better harvests, farmers have started animal husbandry as well. Many households have 8 to 10 cattle head and income from milk, ghee and khoa. Increased income has often provided 1 to 2 motorbikes per family and 4-5 tractors per village.
Importantly, in the future, Amla and her team want to expand their efforts to other states as well. Much work has already been accomplished in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. The organization is now working in the backward Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh.
Due to Amla’s effort, the land known for its scorching summers, parched soil and lack of sufficient water to sustain normal life now transformed into fertile land and now known to have three crops a year, animal husbandry etc.