Tura, April 23: Meghalaya’s Garo hills, is known for its abundant water sources.
However, providing water to several thousand households in rural areas is still a distant reality. Though the government has undertaken various programmes to provide safe drinking water to the rural masses, villages in most parts of Garo hills are yet to reap the benefits. It is only the NGOs which have worked towards providing water to the masses.
Till 2010, rural villages in Gambegre and Selsella development block in West Garo Hills had to depend on nearby water sources — streams and rivers. In the absence of pipelines and wells in their vicinity, they had to climb up the hills to fetch water.
The DoNER ministry under North Eastern Region Community Resource Management Project (NERCORMP) identified several villages in the region for initiating development work.
The implementing agency, West Garo Hills Community Resource Management Society, selected marginalised villages in Selsella and Gambegre block, and constructed community water tanks and wells.
“We had to walk on foot for several kilometres for water. Today, we have a community water tank in our village. It has helped my family and other 42 households,” said Linda D. Sangma, a member of self-help group at Jongbu Chiring, a remote village in West Garo Hills.
Their dreams were realised as the village is part of the NERCORMP project-II, which is being implemented in the Garo hills. The village has also received funding for different activities from International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
“We have accepted the change which has come to our village,” said Gracetal Marak, a member of Natural Resource Management Groups (NaRM-G). The NaRM-G were formed in all NERCORMP funded project villages, which is nothing but a group that decides what initiatives are to be taken in villages.
The community participation has ensured monitoring and surveillance of drinking water sources at the village level. To keep water sources intact and maintain environment equilibrium, certain area in every project villages are kept as community conserve.
An activist of Achik Welfare Society, Manuel Ch. Marak said, “We have collaborated with NERCORMP to initiate various development work in the rural areas. We teach them how to utilise the funds and engage them to work together. There is visible transformation in the lives of the people. We have mobilised the community to initiate welfare activities and have helped them to construct water tanks, concrete village road, community forest reserve and other economic activities.”
There are several villages in Selsella and Gambegre block whose lives have seen a transformation over the past three years.
The project has also helped villages in Selsella and Gambegre address their water woes for agriculture. Minor irrigation initiatives have been taken up at Jongbu Chiring under Gambegre and Chidina Songgital under Selsella.
“The irrigation project has helped us continue with our agricultural practice,” said Chalia G. Momin of Chidina Songittal in Selsella block.
The community owned projects are being managed by NaRM-G.
“The active participation of the villagers has ensured completion of the project,” said Balen Chuang K. Marak, an activist of Socio Economic Welfare Society, an NGO funded by the Baptist Church.
Sources said the project has provided a solution to the problems of the masses. They can think of their future and meaningfully engage themselves to shape their policies for sustainable change.