It takes hundreds of gallons of water to produce a day’s worth of food. That’s a huge problem for countries like India, where “scientists say nearly a third of that country’s underground aquifers are already in critical condition and worry that the country is headed for a full-blown water crisis” (Marketplace).
In the 1980s, Rajendra Singh, trained as a doctor, “decided to move to the poorest, driest, most godforsaken place in his area and build a health clinic and school.” Soon, an old man approached him and told him that they didn’t need medicine and education – they needed water. The government had encouraged farmers to tap into the groundwater for decades. While this caused a rise in food production, the water level dropped drastically and soon, farmers couldn’t reach water or maintain a livelihood. So Singh began digging a pond to catch rainwater.
The three-and-a-half acre pond not only stored water, it recharged the aquifer, filling nearby wells and “greening” 500 acres of surrounding land. Now, over a thousand villages have built rainwater harvesting structures. While harvesting rainwater has immensely helped the area, Singh has “fought to keep out water-guzzling industries, like breweries and mines,” as well as convinced villagers to “change the way they manage their crops,” in some cases using ollas for irrigation. The next challenge? To scale-up and serve the needs of over half a million villages.