Wahegaon Turns ‘Water Secure’ Improving Livelihoods Of Marginal Farmers

Wahegaon Turns ‘Water Secure’ Improving Livelihoods Of Marginal Farmers

Sambhajinagar (Aurangabad): Once ‘water stressed’ like its neighbouring villages in the Marathwada region, Wahegaon village in Paithan block of Aurangabad district is now a striking example of transformation from water stressed to a water secure village. It showcases the outcomes of scientific and systematic participatory approach for natural resources management by the communities & corporates like PepsiCo India, which has established a sustainable model by harvesting rainwater for agriculture needs.

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In the year 2009, PepsiCo India along with Alternative Development Initiatives (ADI) engaged with the Wahegaon community to understand local water woes and did an in-depth assessment of land and water resources to design necessary interventions. At the start of the program, only 100 hectares from a total of 900 hectares of agricultural land was supported by irrigation. Rest was rain-fed and largely supported by one seasonal crop for a community whose mainstay was agriculture. Due to low agriculture income owing to poor availability of groundwater, some of the families either were moving out for a day employment or dependent on industrial employment around.

As a part of PepsiCo’s Sustainable Water Resource Development and Management (SWRDM) program, 13 check dams across three nallahs (drains) and 100 artificial open well recharge structures were constructed which are spread across the geographic area of village. These check dams were built to hold water at key locations and contribute to the ground water in the rainy season. The well recharge structures were constructed to arrest the surface run off from a small catchment and eventually recharging the wells and improving groundwater levels around.

As a result, water levels have improved, along with groundwater availability and micro-irrigation practices have ensured that adequate irrigation water supply was available beyond the June – September rainfall cycle enabling multiple cropping cycles. Crop diversity in the village covers sweet lime, pomegranate, cotton, coriander, onions, sugar cane, maize and flowers in some cases. Even during the last few years of less rainfall and near-drought conditions, the farmers were able to maintain three crop cycles and sustain horticulture trees in the form of Sweet lime.