Do You Know The Story Behind These Inspiring Women From Kerala Who Had To Dig Wells On Their Own
While most of the Southern parts of the country were hit with drought, a group of women from Kerala have decided to take control of the situation.
Scores of them had come together to dig wells in Kerala’s Palakkad district and rewrite their destiny amid the unprecedented dry spell. With the failure of the monsoon season turning into a perennial event, these women have come up with a solution to solve the water crisis.
While a lot of people are hungry because of the drought, not a lot of them are thirsty because of this act of ‘digging deep’.
After monsoon failed to make an impact last year, the women of Ottapalam block have been furiously digging wells despite facing a lot of challenges. Their trusted friends in this endeavour have been their spades and shovels. By the time this article was written, they have dug 180 deep wells, which in turn has led to an abundance of water in the drought hit area.
Even elderly women chip in by climbing down pits using makeshift bamboo ladders and digging arduously for hours using pickaxe and shovel. This has turned into a community activity that has brought the people together.
The sleepy village of Pookottukavu has many such stories to narrate. Last year, during the same time, housewife Sathyabhama was going through a horrible time as she had to sell two of her cattle because of the lack of fodder and water. This year, she has just bought three cattle.
The women well-diggers say desperate times brought in dramatic changes in them.
“We never had any experience of digging wells. But our collective spirit helped us learn the trick easily. Now we have warmed up to it and most of us get into 80-feet deep without any fear,” said K Radha, drenched in mud as she came out of a well holding a shovel.
Owing to the water crisis, it had become an yearly practice to send her children off to her relative’s house during the summer for Radha. Her sons haven’t left home this year.
In tiding over the water crisis, the Ottapalam women have also breached what was perceived to be a male bastion. Digging deep wells was a job that was only deemed fit for ‘stronger’ men. But these women have overcome this mentality with sheer hard-work and are now giving it their best in a male bastion.
The current drought has been particularly bad. South-west monsoon was deficient by 33.7% and the north-east monsoon less by 60% last year. A majority of the 44 rivers that cut across the state, acclaimed as God’s Own Country, are either dry or near-dry, hitting the farming and plantation sectors hard. Locals have also been troubled by the lack of electricity due to the severe hit on hydro-electric power plants due to the drought.The construction business has also taken a massive blow as the work can’t continue due to the lack of water.
The local villagers had said that they were expecting such a drought ever since the animals from the nearby forest started raiding the villages in search of water.
The women who dug the wells were compensated under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS). But with women digging these well, they’ve managed to reduce the cost of a well by a whopping fifty percent.
Palakkad MP MB Rajesh is ecstatic with the results. “It is a classic example of how best to use government funds. When monsoons failed, the women rose up in style,” he said.
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