How a Water Conservation Solution Helps India’s Farming Families

Manhori Devi is one of thousands of farmers working to improve their incomes and climate resilience under difficult conditions

rain on a black flat roof

In India’s Rajasthan region, where some places experience less than five inches of annual rainfall, water conservation is essential.

Here in this arid region, some of which is part of the Thar desert, farmers battle intensifying heat to grow crops to support their families. And with climate change, this warm and dry weather is only getting worse.

So TechnoServe works with farmers in this area to grow guar, a drought-resistant legume that can be sold for a number of commercial purposes. Farmers learn climate-smart agricultural techniques that help improve their resilience to unpredictable or unfavorable weather. Thus far, thousands of farmers have applied these techniques to grow more and better harvests of guar, and to sell to reliable buyers like Solvay.

In addition to improving farmer harvests, TechnoServe also helps women in these farming communities to earn independent sources of income. And like many ways of earning income in this area, success often depends on water conservation.

woman in india stands in front of water tank
Manhori Devi worked hard in farming and business but struggled with water conservation

A Determined Farmer and Businesswoman

Manhori Devi is one of the women working tirelessly to earn a reliable income in this area. In addition to farming guar, she runs her own small shop selling a variety of household goods. Every morning, she wakes up and completes her daily chores before spending four to six hours serving customers in her shop.

She then tends to her “kitchen garden”. These plots of land enable women, with TechnoServe’s support, to cultivate vegetables and other healthy crops to feed their families. This garden both saves Manhori’s family money on food purchases and improves her family’s overall nutrition.

But like many farmers, Manhori struggled to irrigate her garden and access a consistent supply of water for her family’s needs. She would need to find new ways to conserve water.

The Unique Water Conservation Solution

Manhori had learned climate-smart agriculture from the TechnoServe trainings, and it made her more confident about making decisions related to farming and household issues.

So she discussed the water conservation problem with the TechnoServe team–and discovered a unique solution. A “rooftop rainwater harvesting system,” or RRHS, offered a simple, cost-effective way to collect and store water close to home. This system would collect the rain that fell on the roof of her home and channel it into a water tank, conserving water with little effort on her part.

Manhori was sold. She committed to maintaining the RRHS and contributed funding towards its installation. Soon, a long pipe was running from her rooftop, where it channeled any rainfall on the roof into a water tank below.

woman in india stands in front of water tank
Manhori proudly shows the water tank that connects to her rooftop rainwater harvesting system and improves her family’s access to water

“Now I Don’t Need to Walk a Long Distance”

The impact of this water conservation soon flowed into all aspects of Manhori’s life.

“The availability of rain water at all times allows us to water our kitchen gardens properly, giving us good quality, nutritious fruits and vegetables all year long,” she says. The system also provides drinking water for her family and their livestock. And she has even been able to share the water–and her increased vegetable harvest–with her neighbors.

Moreover, the water conservation system saves Manhori time and energy. “Now, I don’t need to walk a long distance for water collection,” she says. “Through the intervention of RRHS, I can grow more vegetables and spend more time in my shop.” In this way, she can focus more on improving her sales and her business income.

Ultimately, Manhori sees the RRHS as an opportunity to improve her wider community. She previously helped train her fellow farmers on the climate-smart agriculture techniques that could improve their yields and incomes.

Today, she is also encouraging her neighbors to adopt a new improvement in their lives: a rooftop rainwater harvesting system.

Support more farmers like Manhori today.