Jal Bhagirathi Foundation (JBF) was established in 2002 as an NGO in Rajasthan and has been working with water distressed communities of the Thar desert. The challenges facing the people in the desert are manifold, it has an extreme environment. Temperatures reach 50+°C in summer, it receives only 200mm a year average rainfall and has an annual 40% chance of severe drought. On top of this is the Thar is the most densely populated arid zone in the world with a fragile agrarian economy dependent on monsoon rains. These factors contribute greatly to water scarcity and climate vulnerability. Families spend a huge amount of money transporting water through water tankers. Women and girl child walk more than 5 km daily to collect water for their family.
JBF has been promoting rainwater harvesting and assisting families in constructing rainwater harvesting tanks (locally known as tankas) within their home premises. A tanka is a circular underground rainwater harvesting tank with a self- contained catchment area and rooftop harvesting system that are used by the family to collect and store rainwater. A handpump is installed on the tanka to draw water.
The project has a unique financing system with the beneficiary contributing 30% of the construction cost and the balance given as a grant by JBF. Tankas have had a major impact on the life of people, they are now able to collect clean, safe drinking water within their home premises.
Shabnam Banu (vill: Jawaharpura, Barmer) shows off her household tanka, she says “I no longer have to walk for collecting water for my family, I have water at my doorstep”. The JBF program has reached 1800 families by constructing rainwater harvesting tankas in their households.