A beautiful, equitable water management system

Khonoma village, which fought the British four times, is today also known for how it protects its ecological heritage. Watch how its indigenous water management system works.
30 Nov 2014
0 mins read
Women in Khonoma tying beads to make necklaces
Women in Khonoma tying beads to make necklaces

Khonoma village resisted British rule in the region from 1830s to 1880 and is therefore considered as the last bastion of Naga warriors against the British. But today, the village is also known for upholding its rich indigenous erudition.

In the last decade, the village has stood out for its environmentally conscious people and prominent efforts to maintain its green. As a result, not only does Khonoma conserve its forests, but it has also banned hunting, which is a way of life for the Nagas.

Like all its natural resources, water, too, is of prime importance, especially in agriculture. Khonoma practices a modified version of Jhum cultivation with Alder trees where they aren't felled but pollarded at a certain height. The Alder trees replenish the soil with nitrogen and prevent soil erosion. They also continue the 600-year old practice of cultivating paddy at the foothills. Water run-off from the Jhum forests, which is rich in nutrients, travels all the way down to the paddy fields.

These paddy fields are irrigated through streams. The community works together to create channels that lead the water up to the fields. The elders of the village have passed down this legacy and the farmer whose field is located at the end is considered the sole owner of the water. This farmer ensures that every plot of land has water.

It is considered a shame if one’s neighbour’s plot is left dry - a beautiful system with inbuilt equity!

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