Having read and heard about the transformation water wheels have brought for the rural women in the drought prone Vidarbha-Marathwada regions of Maharashtra, Narasimha Medha Kotaru, president, RC Global Champions, RID 3150, set about the task of donating rolling plastic drums to tribal women in remote Telangana villages to ease their burden of fetching water.
“In RID 3150, this is the first time we are giving the water wheels to tribal women at select villages hit hard by water shortage. They trek 10km to fetch water from deep wells, ponds and streams located far away from their homes. Access to clean, drinking water is still a dream for many families in rural Nalgonda,” he says.
To begin with, he took up a pilot project that will cater to the drinking water needs of Kambalapalli village in Nalgonda district, 150km from Hyderabad, and two more villages — Kundee and Khadodi — in Adilabad district, 370km from the capital. While 42 water wheels were distributed in Nalgonda in November, another 137 ‘rolling drums’ were given to women at two villages in Adilabad on Dec 24. “Each water wheel has 45-litre capacity, and the women can just roll it over even on difficult terrain, saving themselves the tough task of carrying heavy loads on their head or waist,” says Kotaru. So far, 179 plastic drums have been distributed. “We are identifying villages where there is an acute water scarcity to distribute water wheels as an ongoing project,” he says.
Kotaru has roped in Vanavasi Kalyan Parishad, an NGO working for tribal rights and livelihood, for doing the ground work and shortlisting the potential beneficiaries. Profusely thanking Rotary, Jella Eedamma (62) at Kambalapalli village, says, “earlier, most of our time was spent on carrying water on our heads. Now, even men are using the water wheels to fetch water and we have a lot of spare time to do other useful things.”
While holidaying in the US, Kotaru and his spouse, Suseela, were guided by their sons — Krishna Chaitanya in California and Chakravarthy in Austin, Texas — and daughters-in-law, all five of them club members, on tapping the crowdfunding platform, Milaap. “Our 19 NRI members, along with others, pitched in with $6,000 for the pilot project.” The water wheels were procured from the Silvassa plant of Nilkamal at `2,400 per unit.
The DG wants to make the water wheels a district project for better reach among rural women. “I will make a presentation at the discon Uttejam (inspiration) at Guntur, Feb 4–5, to gather more support,” he adds.