The Satyamev Jayate Samruddha Gaon Spardha is a competition aimed at transforming the rural ecology and rural economy in Maharashtra, and empowering citizens to create the village of their dreams through sustainable water use and environmental restoration.
Competition trains and empowers villagers in watershed management
From 2016-2019, thousands of villages in Maharashtra participated in the Satyamev Jayate Water Cup, a competition for the best and maximum work on soil and water conservation. Over 51,000 villagers took part in a four-day training course and were empowered with social and technical skills in the science of watershed management. These trainees went back and inspired their villages further, to lead a thriving people’s movement against drought. This year, the competition just got bigger!
The transformative power of collective action for a drought-free and prosperous Maharashtra
For decades, drought has ravaged thousands of village in Maharashtra, leading to thirst, hunger, debt, forced migration and withered crops. After travelling through hundreds of villages, and speaking with veterans in the field, Paani Foundation founders Aamir Khan and Kiran Rao discovered that this crisis is largely man-made. It is a result of mismanagement of water and natural resources, exacerbated by the uncertainties caused by climate change.
The scientific solutions to eradicating this crisis can be found in methods of water conservation, water management and environment restoration. These are well-known solutions, propagated by experts for years.
However, the primary barrier to implementing these on scale lies in deep-rooted social fractures. Divides of caste, religion, political affiliations and gender have prevented communities from owning this issue and finding purpose in solving it together. Until now.
Almost 1,000 villages are eligible to participate in the competition this year
At the Paani Foundation—set up in 2016 by the core team of the ‘Satyamev Jayate’ TV show, with the mission of making rural Maharashtra drought-free and prosperous—they believe in the transformative power of collection action.
They say they are convinced that only a broad-based people’s movement that brings the village community together, can face this crisis, and their mission is to create a drought-free and prosperous Maharashtra, by fostering social unity and providing scale to proven solutions and technologies.
From 2016 to 2019, the Paani Foundation hosted the Satyamev Jayate Water Cup, a competition for excellence in soil and water conservation.
At the heart of this competition was ‘shramadaan’ (voluntary labour). Every single day, thousands united and contributed their time and efforts towards a greater good.
The competition created a platform for village communities to work together in a positive and joyful way to solve the problem of drought. The Water Cup platform enabled citizens to address the crisis of water scarcity as one, break the cycle of government dependence, and experience the glory of making their village water-abundant through their own efforts.
Bolstered by its year-on-year success, the Foundation launched the Satyamev Jayate Samruddha Gaon Spardha in 2020, a larger competition aimed at transforming rural ecology and the rural economy. In 2020-2021, almost 1,000 villages across 40 talukas (administrative districts) are eligible to participate in this competition. These villages have been shortlisted on the basis of their performance as part of the Water Cup.
The Foundation website lists a wide selection of instructional videos on watershed management and associated topics.
Scroll down for a video on the competition. Now… the second video is almost unbelievable. We don’t usually do second videos, but the difference one village made in 45 days is staggering, and it’s worth watching the clip as the man who taught them how to do it, Dr. Avinash Pol, has a good chuckle about it. There is real joy in this project from everyone involved. You can see it in their faces.
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