Be wise, water wise - Students get on a mission to combat water crisis

An initiative by the students of Oasis International School, Bengaluru, focuses on water conservation and management, while also developing universal values like empathy, gratitude, love and respect.
 Students of Oasis International School participate in an initiative to help combat water crisis in a village (Image Source: Oasis International School) Students of Oasis International School participate in an initiative to help combat water crisis in a village (Image Source: Oasis International School)

In the past few years, India has undoubtedly developed remarkably, but not enough to eradicate all the problems it has been facing, including the shortage of water. To contribute our part in the process of reducing key water risks, I, Safa Mohammed a student of eleventh grade, along with my fellow students of grades 7 to 12 of Oasis International School took part in this year’s Service Learning Program (SLP). Our plan was to work collaboratively to help tackle water issues in a village called Kadusonapanahalli.

SLP initiated in 2014, is a parent-led, student driven and teacher supported program that enables students to gain real life experiences on how to overcome problems efficiently while learning how to treat others with love, respect, compassion and empathy. Also, the program gives students opportunities to work hard to empower the commnities around. This year, Oasis and its SLP team undertook the project known as "Be wise, water wise", where we aimed to restore and provide efficient water supply to Kadusonapanahalli, a village about 2 km away from our school.

While improving and helping our fellow society members, we did not forget to sharpen our own rough edges. We first spread out the word and rose awareness of our water saving projects through parents and sports meets. Next, we changed our school taps to more efficient water saving taps, saving close to 80 percent of the water consumption in wash rooms. And we also installed an Aquaponics system, a modern method of farming, which uses only 90 percent of water, in the school.

Gaining real life experieinces

The highlight of the program is the methods that we decided to use to aid a school in Kadusonapanahalli by building a rainwater harvesting system and soak pits.

The recharge pit had been installed to refresh the borewell of the village school, which hadn't been supplying the school with enough water for their daily use. 

The soak pits, which are 4ft in diameter and 10ft depth have a unique feature where they have porous walls that allow the water to pass through where it is slowly absorbed into the ground.

We first began this journey by working alongside with 'Fuel a dream'. This platform enabled us, the students, to raise funds with a goal of 16,000 INR per student. At the end of the month of January, the students had raised 3,38,000 INR. 

We along with our supporting parents, teachers and external funders then made our way to the village. With the constant help of Mr John Daniel - an expert in rainwater harvesting, we learnt about the present conditions and the current water system in the village. We also interacted with the village school headmaster, students and panchayat members and understood how installing a new rainwater harvesting system system and soak pits would help the village.

On each trip to the village, we experienced something new. First, we went around the village and observed the already existing water bodies that were being used. At the end of the first trip, we concluded that the dirty water canals leading to a large lake needed to be cleared to disharge clean water to the lake.

The soak pits have been installed near the canal which directs water to the lake in the village. The installed soak pits are then used to filter out the drain water which would often clog and result in unhealthy and unsuitable living conditions for the people living near the water canal. While the dirty water is sent to the soak pits, the restored canal will allow clean rainwater to flow to the lake.

During the next trip, we directly took part in a camera test analysis where we were able to help measure the existing water levels in the borewell. We also participated in constructing the two recharge wells of the rainwater harvesting system, going almost 11ft down with the labourers and helping them plough deeper. This was a wonderful experience as it gave us the thrill of hard work and at the end of the day we were satisfied that we had done all we could to help.

For more pictures of the initiative, visit the Flickr album here.

A small change that significantly improved villagers' life

Through this, we also learnt how the rainwater harvesting system worked from its construction to its operation. We also planted trees around the village school to help revive the groundwater flow. 

Now, the project's main aim is to restore the existing water canals to allow the free flow of water around the village and secure the independent sources of water in the village.  

We hope that we have been able to bring a small change in the lives of the people in the Kadosonapanahalli village and have made their everyday tasks slightly easier. 

Visiting the village each time, made us understand that to some even the easiest task is a big feat. We are happy that we had the opportunity in making their lives better even if this was only a small stepping stone in overcoming their huge problems. 

"No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted"  

-Aesop. 

Take a look at the video, developed by the students to explain the water scarcity issues in the village..

 

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