As a skilled mason, Tamaram rises before the sun most mornings and makes the 100-kilometer journey to the neighboring villages of Balesar and Jodhpur in Rajasthan, India to get to work on time. With a wife and five kids at home, the majority of his time is spent working long days to ensure he is making enough money to provide for them all.
While Tamaram is at work, it is the responsibility of his wife and daughters to collect water for their family. And in Rajasthan, this is no easy task.
Because the Thar Desert is mostly saline, most groundwater is unsuitable for drinking. Instead, many families in the region have to rely on open ponds or government-filled reservoir tanks for their water supply. But because the demand for water is so high (especially during the summer months) many of these reservoir tanks often stand empty and the ponds dry up.
To supplement their water supply during the dry season, Tamaram’s family pays to have water trucked in and stored in a kuccha tanka outside their home. Kuccha tankas are small, unlined pits in the ground that are surrounded by mud. Because these pits are poorly protected, much of the water either seeps into the ground or evaporates away. The water that remains is almost always contaminated, and many of Tamaram’s family members have fallen sick from drinking it.
Every year, Tamaram would have to spend at least 25-30% of his annual income on having this water trucked to his home. And with such a large family to provide for, this often meant he was never able to put any of his money aside for savings.
Additionally, during the summer months when the demand was high and supply was low, water would become so expensive to truck in that Tamaram would have to borrow money or take water on credit and pay it back when he was able to find more work.
That was until our local partner, the Jal Baghirathi Foundation, stepped in.
JBF works to change the story for families like Tamaram’s by training and supporting them to construct a permanent rainwater harvesting tanka. These tankas (unlike the previous kuccha tankas) are built out of stone and cement to maximize the collection and storage of clean and safe water.
JBF’s program is demand-driven. This means families have to opt-in and contribute to both the cost of materials and the construction process.
Tamaram was tired of seeing his family suffer from the dirty water they were drinking and decided to use his masonry skills from work to partake in JBF’s program and construct a brand new tanka for his family in just 22 days.
Now, with a clean water tanka right in their backyard, Tamaram no longer has to spend his hard earned money on trucking tanker water into his home. Instead, he can save this extra 25-30% of his income each year to help take care of his family.
For Tamaram’s family, having this tanka is just as important as the food they eat, the clothing they wear, and the house in which they live. It serves as a sustainable source of clean and safe water all year long. And it is an asset that will stay with them for generations to come.