Vinia and Amalia visited our project’s area in West Bengal, India, in April. They met farmers and their families in order to gain a better understanding of the groundwater use for irrigation in the area, as well as the hygienic conditions in the households.
Here is their experiences and findings:
“Two workshops were held for training the local project workers on qualitative analysis and indicating the most important findings of the Baseline Survey, which was conducted by the local staff of JGVK after being initiated by Marie, Tine and Jeanne back in November, 2018.
At the workshops knowledge about the SRI (System of Rice Intensification) method in comparison with the conventional agricultural methods was obtained and its sustainability was evaluated. Due to the cyclone Fani in May, the harvest outcome was not yet known by the time of visit, thus such a comparison was not possible yet. The prolonged growth period of the SRI is also playing a role.
An estimation of the water consumption for irrigation took place in the fields. None of the farmers knew how to estimate the water needed for irrigation, only in terms of watering hours. A rough estimation showed that rice is the crop with the highest water need, with more than double compared to bananas, which has the second highest need.
The surface water abundance was remarkable, despite the fact that the visit occurred during the dry season, as light and heavy rain had already fallen. This has caused damage to the crops and many farmers had to pump out water from their fields. However, at the beginning of February there was depletion of both ground and pond water, as in the previous years, and dry tube-well pumps were identified during the visit in April. Despite the fact that people are aware of the groundwater depletion due to irrigation, shallow pumps are still used.
The main source of clean water for the majority of the households is the tube-well water. Problems are faced during the fetching, with dry wells being the most important issue during the dry period. The households use groundwater for drinking and cooking purposes considering it as safe, thus not purifying it. However, some were not sure about or aware of the groundwater quality. Pond water is used for other everyday needs, such as bathing and cleaning clothes, though believing that it is unsafe. Plenty of them do not use soap every time they wash their hands. To provide a glass of water, the glass is rinsed with clean water but bare, dirty hands. Nevertheless, in general, people are aware that following hygienic practices is important for preventing diseases.”