Jal Sahelis: For years, the farmers of Bundelkhand have struggled to make ends meet due to the lack of water. With scarce water supplies, despairing farmers on the plains have been forced to give up their lands and take up precarious work in the cities. But the women of Bundelkhand refuse to give up. They are a dedicated group of Jal Sahelis who are working tirelessly to restore and manage water bodies in the drought-prone region. The women of Bundelkhand are fighting a battle like no other – a battle against water scarcity. In a place where the soil is parched and desert and temperatures may reach a blistering 50 degrees Celsius, these ladies are taking matters into their own hands, determined to effect change and ensure that their villages are no longer high and dry during the scorching summer months.
Climate change has been related to erratic rainfall patterns and excessive temperatures in Bundelkhand, which has had numerous protracted dry spells since a drought was proclaimed at the turn of the century. But the ladies of Bundelkhand won’t get defeated by climate change. These Jal Sahelis are planning new catchment areas, reservoirs, and waterway revitalizations in order to reap the benefits of the June monsoon, which accounts for around 75% of yearly rainfall.
In the drought-prone Bundelkhand region, over 1,300 women are restoring and managing water sources. These Jal Sahelis have ensured that hand pumps are installed in 300 communities so that women do not have to trek too far to receive water. Their passion and hard work have had a significant impact on the region. While the Jal Sahelis are making a remarkable impact in the Bundelkhand region, there are NGOs like ‘Parmarth’ that are also doing their part in India’s development by helping these ladies. The NGO’s work has had the greatest influence on women’s empowerment in Bundelkhand. Women who were once confined to their houses and forbidden from leaving without a ‘ghunghat’ are now leading the effort to restore water bodies and build water infrastructure.
As monsoon storms batter India, we are reminded of the wonderful job being done by these Jal Sahelis. They are Bundelkhand’s unsung heroes, working diligently to guarantee that their villages no longer confront water scarcity. They are bringing about change not only in the region’s water infrastructure but also in the people’s thinking. They are empowering women and ensuring the region’s long-term viability. The women of Bundelkhand have demonstrated that change is possible, no matter how difficult the undertaking appears. They have demonstrated that with hard effort and determination, we can overcome even the most difficult challenges.
The Jal Sahelis are not just ordinary women, they are the torchbearers of water security and champions of collective action for water rights and entitlements. These inspiring women lead by example, engaging their communities in the development of water resources and the preparation of water user master plans. They don’t stop there, they also liaise with local government, panchayats, and politicians, advocating for water issues at the village level. With their unwavering determination, they are transforming their villages, making them water self-sufficient, and empowering themselves and their communities in the process.
Their effort extends beyond simply delivering water to the inhabitants of Bundelkhand. It is about ensuring the region’s long-term viability, a future in which people do not have to fight for survival during the hot summer months. It is about giving the women of the region a voice and empowering them. These women are an inspiration to us all. They tell us that we must never give up, no matter how difficult the battle is. They demonstrate that with hard effort and perseverance, we can effect change in even the most difficult of conditions. They are proof that when women band together, they can accomplish anything.