“This is the pond that would be dry at the beginning of the year. The pond has been revived by Hindustan Coca-Cola beverages and it is full of water. Now me and my friends do not walk miles to fetch water,” said a hopeful Vijaya Gavare, a resident of Chandrapur village.
In 2015, Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages Pvt. Ltd (HCCB), Coke’s company-owned bottler in India launched an integrated watershed management project covering three villages: Khaprale in Chandrapur, Jamgaon in Sinnar Taluka, and Nasik District of Maharashtra. More than 1,750 community members will benefit from the project, which is being implemented by HCCB, Watershed Organisation Trust (WOTR), Sanjeevni Institute of Empowerment and Development (SIED), and local administrations and communities.
The project aims to address issues arising from water scarcity for agriculture, high soil erosion, land degradation, lack of knowledge on agricultural production technology through sustainable improvement in agricultural production techniques and optimum utilization of natural resources.
To date, 32,400 meters of farm bunds have been constructed in Khaprale village and 24,260 meters in Chandrapur village. Continuous contour trenches have been completed, as well as 63 loose boulder structures and earthen gully plugs. Trees also have been planted.
Repair work on percolation tanks in both villages has boosted storage capacity and increased the water table in the community well. According to Meerabai Talape, Sarpanch (Elected Head of Village), Khaprale. “The water in our wells wouldn’t last for more than four or five months after the rainy season. Last year, Hindustan Coca-Cola and SIED started work on reviving activities of the well, and its positive effects are there for all of us to rejoice. It is such a big relief for our village.”
“We need to do lots of things for our village related to water scarcity. Now that Hindustan Coca-Cola is supporting us, we are hopeful to be a tanker-free village in the coming two years," adds Sunita Gegadmal, Sarpanch of Jamgaon.
The Automated Weather Station (AWS) is proving to be a boon for farmers. Installed at Chandrapur, equidistant from Khaprale and Jamgaon villages, the station sends customized information to registered farmers about their crops, rainfall, wind speed and direction, weather forecast and market price of their produce -- all in the local language. “The message that we receive is easy to understand and read. With this information, we are better informed to plan our next few days and farming activities,” said Namdev Sadgir, a farmer from Chandrapur village.
Crispino Lobo, Managing Trustee, WOTR,said, “Through this partnership with Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages, WOTR and SIED (“Sanjeevani) aim to ignite the spark of hope and confidence in these drought-affected villages by catalyzing their creativity and potential for self-help. This will be achieved by organizing them to implement soil and water conservation works across the catchments they live in so that every drop of rainwater that falls is harvested. We will introduce them to new ways of using this water efficiently so that they get “more crop per drop”; improve the quality of their farm lands; help them adopt agricultural practices that improve yields in a nature friendly manner and provide them crop advisories to reduce weather-induced risks.
Empowering women is an important component of the project. The expected outcome of this project will be increased water availability for drinking and agriculture, increased farm incomes, improved food and nutrition security and a better quality of life than at present.”