“In our country, we just turn on a tap and water is available. We don’t really worry about it going dry – says Jacob, the environmental engineer from Germany
“Water is a precious resource. However, in cities like Bangalore, water is squandered without a second thought. Johan Saelens, Jacob Benisch and Antoin Borjnon, three FSL India volunteers did their bit to set right the imbalance by setting up a Rain Water Harvesting system in a Hebbal school. While and Jacob are from Germany and Antoin is from France and like most of Europe, they don’t really have problems and water shortage is an alien concept to them
These three young volunteers of FSL India set up a rain water harvesting system in a government school near Bytarayanapura by mobilising almost an amount Rs. 15,000. Their trip across rural Karnataka made them feel how dire the situation is. The trio whose ages range from 19 to 24 years are high school/college students who are with FSL India for field service and inter-cultural learning. Jacob is an environmental engineer, Antoin a telecommunications engineer and Johan is just the high school student.
They are placed at Rain Water Concepts and Water Literacy Foundation, a Bangalore-based NGO. It was a new concept for them. But what they had not realised how important rain water harvesting was in a country like India where the demand for the life-giving liquid was more than the supply. In France and Germany, people just turn on a tap and water is available. People don’t really worry about it going dry. It was only when they came to India that they did realise how dire is the situation. They were surprised that in rural Karnataka, people walk long distances to fetch drinking water even in this day and age. Still amount of water is being wasted in Bangalore.
After the trip to drought-ridden Gadag district in North Karnataka, they decided to do something to stop the waste of water around them. Therefore, they chose the government school near Bytarayanapura in Hebbal. The school has 525 children and used about 300 litres of water daily. Initially they had no proper method of disposing the used or grey water. This used to flood the roads and it was an unhygienic mess. There is no Cauvery water supply in this part of town and people rely on bore-well water. B Sumithra, the school principal says, that when these three came up with the idea of rain water harvesting in the school, it was a great relief.
These FSL India volunteers came up with three-fold strategic solutions. They set up roof rain water harvesting, grey water harvesting which led to underground recharging and open catchment harvesting. The entire roof became a catchment area for the children to use for their water requirements including bathrooms and for washing vessels. The grey water that came out of the bathrooms is used to charge the groundwater after intense filtration. They also created a method to ensure drain system so as to prevent roads from flooding. The entire cost was about Rs 36,000.
People who supplied the raw material gave at a cost reasonably low price. They did not want to ask anybody for help and wanted to do this by themselves. There is no water shortage for them in their country. But no one ever knows how bad the situation can get around the world. Water is a precious resource it needs to be conserved. This is the lesson one has to learn from these young volunteer.