On Tuesday our group began interviewing beneficiaries of KJBF water development projects. So far we have been able to visit four sites and interview over ten people, which has provided lots of valuable insights for my research thesis.
River restoration projects are essential to the success of other water development projects, bringing many social and environmental benefits. Take for example Rajendra Latare, 41, and Lata Ratare, 35. Married with two daughters and one son, they live in the small village of Antargaon. In addition to Mr. Latare’s inherited land and his wife’s three acres, he recently bought a plot alongside a nearby river. A busy family, they grow papaya, bananas and sugar cane year-round but have also started to grow cotton on their purchased land. This brings in about 6 lakhs ($11,000 USD) of annual profit.
Before their involvement with KJBF, the Latare family struggled with the erratic water levels that ruined many crops, such as the vulnerable cotton plants. The Latare family had no previous contact with NGOs and received menial government services that did more harm than good. He also had to pay 35 rupees per day to use water from his neighbor’s well for irrigation.
Mr. Latare was introduced to KJBF though a rural appraisal meeting, which led to his participation in the river widening and check dam projects in 2011. The KJBF river restoration project established a consistent water supply and stopped the ongoing problem of water-logging, especially on the cotton field adjacent to the river. Mr. Latare then worked with KJBF to construct a drip irrigation system on his land, which reduced his water consumption by 50%. He explained that because it waters his land at a consistent rate, it also prevents temperate fluctuation in the soil that could cause trees to prematurely drop their fruit.
When asked about future plans, the Latare family dreams big. Mr. Latare wanted to create his own business that delivers fruit to people’s homes, and Mrs. Latare plans on saving the extra profit for her son’s education.
The Latare family’s story shows how families and farming communities become more stable through river restoration. This vital service empowers Rajendra Latare to manage his crops and pursue other water development projects, which gives him more control over his own livelihood.