How will vast regions of India, where highly unreliable rainfall makes the difference between famine and sustenance, cope with climate change? Over 85 percent of the cultivated area in this country is either directly dependent on rain or depends on rain to recharge its groundwater. Seasonal rain provides water for irrigation, drinking, and household needs. It provides water to livestock and is necessary to grow fodder for animals. The question of how these areas will adapt as rainfall becomes even more variable with climate change is especially important now, as groundwater is being pumped from deeper and deeper wells to grow water-guzzling crops like sugarcane, rice, wheat and even flowers.
I ask these questions once again, because for once I have some answers. I traveled to Hiware Bazaar village in Ahmednagar district to find an amazing example of environmental regeneration. This village of a thousand-odd families in the rain shadow, drought-prone region of Maharashtra was reportedly destitute and lawless some 15 years ago. Today, it is an incredible example of how rainwater harvesting can create prosperity.