Rajasthan is a desert state with a high population density, which leads to constant struggles with water shortages and environmental degradation. The falling water table threatens the main sources of income and livelihood in the region in which we work, agriculture and animal husbandry. If the water levels are not stabilized the long-term prospects for the region are not good. In the area in which we work, there are frequent problems with wells running dry, with the result being that people have to travel to nearby villages to get water and transport it back, or they have to hope that they can get enough from a government water tanker. In addition to water, there are also problems with deforestation as villagers cut down trees for cooking fuel, housing material, animal feed, and so forth. This problem comes from the poverty and dense population in the region. Women self help group are also involved in Agriculture.
To get a concrete idea of the challenges facing the resident of Rajasthan, note that on a land area roughly equal to that of the state of Colorado in the US, Rajasthan has a population of 69 million people. The population of Colorado is 5 million. The area in which we work is one of the more densely populated parts of Rajasthan. The average annual rainfall is roughly two feet (61 cm), mostly coming during the monsoon season in July and August. This amount of rainfall is somewhere between the desert states in the US (CO, UT, AZ) and the agricultural states of the US (KS, IL), etc.
To address these issues, LSS plans on establishing education programs on environmental preservation and programs for water harvesting. The field workers, Rohitash and Gopal, have experience in conducting awareness campaigns to prevent over-cutting of the forests, as well as in administering the building of water harvesting structures. The latter is particularly critical because all the rain comes in big bursts during the monsoon season and it often washes away because the region is also hilly. It is crucial to get sufficient water harvesting structures in place so that the rain that does fall in the area, remains in the area. We plan on starting this work in 2013 after receiving our registration to receive foreign funds from the government of India and after our other areas of work are established. This work is generally more capital intensive and needs to be funded from foreign grants.