Taking a leaf out of rainwater harvesting model from Balika Vidyalayas

At a time when the world is reeling under the devastating effects of climate change and lack of groundwater causing massive water crisis, students from Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas (KGBVs) at Ichchapuram, Laveru, Kotturu and Ponduru in Srikakulam district of Andhra Pradesh are setting an example in rainwater harvesting and water conservation. 
The KGBVs have set up committees to oversee effective implementation of water conservation methods and rainwater harvesting, which are helping them in growing kitchen gardens with waste water. Taking inspiration from the four KGBVs, other Balika Vidyalayas in the district have also started rainwater harvesting and conserving water in a big way. 
As the KGBV at Ichchapuram is located in a low-lying area adjacent to a hill, stagnation of rainwater on the school premises during the rainy season had become an issue. The stagnation problem prompted the KGBV to opt for rainwater harvesting. 
“We dug rainwater harvesting pit on the school premises with the technical support from civil engineers a year ago, which yielded good results. We even divert waste water from the Reverse Osmosis plant into the pit. We have been raising a kitchen garden adjacent to the rainwater harvesting pit in an area of 50 cents. The groundwater level in the area has increased remarkably following implementation of water conservation methods,” said KGBV Special Officer R Vasanti. 
Earlier, it took four to five hours to get the tank on the school premises filled with borewell water. After the implementation of rainwater harvesting and water conservation methods, the tank is getting filled with borewell water within one hour, which shows the remarkable increase in groundwater table, she said. “We are growing leafy vegetables in the kitchen garden to meet our requirements. The increase in consumption of leafy vegetables helps improve the iron level among girl students,”  she added. 
The KGBV at Laveru looks like a fruit garden, which is effectively implementing rainwater harvesting and water conservation methods. “We dug three soak pits on the school premises for rainwater harvesting. Rainwater from the terrace of school building reaches the soak pits through a pipeline. We are now producing vegetables and fruits to meet the requirements of our students. The rainwater harvesting has helped us overcome the water problem. A single borewell on the school premises is meeting the water requirement of 200 students,” a KGBV official said.
Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan Project Officer Srinivasa Rao said that three KGBVs from Srikakulam were selected for the national award in water conservation category. Now, all the 32 KGBVs in the district have been implementing water conservation methods. Though water conservation and raising of kitchen gardens on the premises of KGBVs are made mandatory, the results vary from school to school. The four KGBVs in Srikakulam are in the forefront in rainwater harvesting, the PO added.
Experts believe that if similar methods of water conservation and rainwater harvesting are adopted by communities and residents in every village of Andhra Pradesh, the state will not face water crisis in the years to come. 

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