National Geographic : 2009 Nov
pay for weddings or veterinary care or the solar lights that now dot the village at night. W in January, the villagers were nd- ing some hope in their own land. e young trees on the ridgetops were green and thriving. e hills and elds had been con- toured with small dams and trenches, looking like tidy ripples arcing across a brownish pond. Bhaskar Pawar---the farmer who had sat in the temple with me eight months earlier, waiting to see whether the watershed work would pay o ---excitedly reported that the water level in the village wells was about ten feet higher than normal. And this was a good thing, because the monsoon had once again confounded the villag- ers. Not a drop had fallen over the valley during the month of June or in the rst three weeks of July. eir millet seeds had withered and died. "It was a miserable time," Bhaskar recalled. And yet when the rain did come---in torrents in late July---they were ready to catch the water and put it to use. ey d spent the fall months harvesting tomatoes. Now they were working on onions and sorghum. And they were also harvesting something less tangible: a newfound, tenuous harmony. One morning I watched as Sitaram Kale, the shopkeeper and one of nine members of the Vil- lage Watershed Development Committee, rode his bike over to the Pawars settlement to spread the word about a watershed-related meeting to be held later in the dusty schoolyard on his side of town. He passed the news to a voluble, grandmotherly woman named Chandrakhanta Pawar, who disseminated it by ducking her head into several of her neighbors homes, assuring that each would come and participate. " ere s a meeting later this morning over in Fed Up Town," she announced. "One of the Fed Up People just came over to say so." j In the village of Gunjalwadi, one-year-old Sarika Walunj's monthly weigh-in records her growth. The watershed program here has led to more crops and better nutrition and to the increased prosperity that supports this day care center, staffed by local women.