Paani Wali Bai Gives Women Water, Leisure & Jobs; Dr. Sarika Kulkarni's Raah Foundation Provides Water Security To 120 Villages

Paani Wali Bai Gives Women Water, Leisure & Jobs; Dr. Sarika Kulkarni's Raah Foundation Provides Water Security To 120 Villages

Pooja PatelUpdated: Monday, April 15, 2024, 09:41 AM IST
article-image
Dr Sarika Kulkarni, co-founder and chief executive officer, Raah Foundation |
 Luis Miranda, co-founder, Indian School of Public Policy

Luis Miranda, co-founder, Indian School of Public Policy |

Dr Sarika Kulkarni co-founded Raah Foundation which has provided water security to 120 villages, 60,000 people and 8,000 cattle in Palghar district.

In 2013, during a leisure trip to Jawhar in Palghar to visit the Dabhosa waterfalls, Dr Sarika Kulkarni chanced upon women walking on the road carrying pots of water on their heads. Little did she know that this encounter would set her on a ‘raah’ to change the course of the lives of 60,000 people of tribal communities. 

On learning that these women had to walk miles to fetch water for drinking and cooking even though the district is situated in the northern Western Ghats that receive torrential rainfall, Kulkarni was alarmed. 

“Girish Kulkarni and I co-founded Raah Foundation as we realised that we come from a very privileged background and it was very important to give back to the society not only in spirit, but also in action,” said Dr Kulkarni. They roped in experts including hydrogeologist Dr Himanshu Kulkarni to understand the geographical constraints in Jawhar and Mokhada, certain that scientific data was key to finding a sustainable solution. 

“Those women had told me that fetching water from faraway distances was something their grandmothers had done too. And I thought to myself that if I don’t help them now, even their granddaughters will have to do it in the future.”

Equipped with research data on the region’s compact basalt rock that has  low permeability and groundwater storage, Raah Foundation began to implement a bouquet of solutions in two villages in 2013. This pilot project was a success; both villages became water positive; and the foundation added more villages. 

Solutions included making drinking water available by creating new water resources such as wells; systems were placed to recharge the existing borewells to catch every drop of water and ensure tapping of surface and groundwater in a sustainable manner; repairing of existing check dams for hygiene, household and irrigation purposes as well as constructing new check dams.

“Today, as part of this water security programme we have made around 110 villages water positive and 60,000 people have benefited out of it, earning us an accreditation from the United Nations,” Dr Kulkarni said.  

Once the generational water scarcity problem of the tribal communities was solved, the women found themselves with something they had never dreamt of — the luxury to rest, and free time. “They used to spend approximately 1,200 hours a year to fetch water,” shared Dr Kulkarni, who received the moniker ‘pani wali bai’. Now, they had time to not only rest, but to also take on entrepreneurial initiatives.

"Under our Sustainable Livelihoods – Women programme, we worked with women to create microbusiness opportunities, group business opportunities, market linkages for product-based and art-based businesses,” Kulkarni said. 

Under the Climate Smart Agriculture programme, Dr Kulkarni has worked with small and marginal farmers to help them grow year-round crops to build a steady annual income. This has stopped migration to the metro cities in search of work.

Dr Kulkarni’s team continues to work with communities in Jawhar, Mokhada and Vikramgarh blocks (Palghar district), Trimbakeshwar block (Nashik District), Pen (Raigad district) and Mumbai. Their goal is to provide sustainable livelihoods and skill training while addressing water scarcity and climate change through their five programmes: Water Security, Climate Smart Agriculture; Sustainable Livelihoods – Women; Skill Training; and Regreen Nation.

RECENT STORIES

Showing The Way For Visually Challenged People; Parimala Bhat, Founder, Snehankit Helpline

Showing The Way For Visually Challenged People; Parimala Bhat, Founder, Snehankit Helpline

Let's Talk About The Uterus, Says Archana Sharma, Cervical Cancer Awareness Activist

Let's Talk About The Uterus, Says Archana Sharma, Cervical Cancer Awareness Activist

For Adults With Disabilities, Life And Employment Skills; Yash Charitable Trust, Dr. Sushama...

For Adults With Disabilities, Life And Employment Skills; Yash Charitable Trust, Dr. Sushama...

A Former Street Kid Builds A Lifeline For Others Like Him; Amin Sheikh, Founder, Bombay To Barcelona...

A Former Street Kid Builds A Lifeline For Others Like Him; Amin Sheikh, Founder, Bombay To Barcelona...

Skills And Stipends For Those With Intellectual Disabilities; Jai Vakeel Foundation

Skills And Stipends For Those With Intellectual Disabilities; Jai Vakeel Foundation