By Ila Ananya
In Pookottukavu, a village in Kerala’s Palakkad district, a group of 300 women have got together to dig 190 wells in the last six months to deal with the drought they are reeling under.
The Kerala government declared the state drought-hit in October last year, owing to a huge drop in rainfall, both in the south-west and the north-east monsoon. Most of the rivers in the state are nearly dry. Back then, the government had brought out a list of guidelines, including steps like reducing the use of water and recycling used water.
The women, however, have made things easier in the area when they began digging the wells with spades and shovels in October 2016, when the first signs of drought became more obvious. Even earlier when there was water available, it was the women who walked many kilometers to fetch it. Now, The News Minute reports that the women have been digging deeper and deeper until they find water, and in some cases, women have ended up being able to dig wells so close to home, that there’s no longer any reason for them to walk long distances.
Hindustan Times reports that none of the women had any prior experience in digging wells, but that hasn’t stopped them. “We never had any experience of digging wells. But our collective spirit helped us learn the trick easily. Now we have warmed up to it and most of us get into 80-feet deep without any fear,” K Radha, one of the women involved in digging the wells, reportedly said.
Since then, well-digging has been included in the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS). The News Minute reports that of the 2000 registered members under MNREGA in the panchayat, only around 700 are men. The women, who previously used to undertake cleaning drives on the roads and work on farms, decided they wanted to be included, and now, six months later, these women have been responsible for alleviating the otherwise terrible drought in their area.