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The Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences includes staff with interests in biological sciences, conservation, ecology, environmental sciences, environmental statistics, geography and waste management. We offer a range of degree programmes and have a number of postgraduate research students. For more information about studying with us please visit http://www.northampton.ac.uk/.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Wells for India Director visits Northampton University

Kevin Cook

On Thursday October 9th Om Prakash Sharma, the Director of the Wells for India Office in Udaipur, Rajasthan, took time out from a busy schedule of meetings to visit the University of Northampton to talk to first and second year geographers and international development students. 

The first year geographers had been set the task of raising the funds to enable the charity to provide 22 biosand filters for families living in a village in the Thar desert in Rajasthan. Each filter costs £30 and by carrying out tasks such as selling Wells for India Christmas cards, making cakes or simply asking for donations, they hope to raise the £660 for the project to proceed. Working in teams, they will be contributing to the university’s social responsibility agenda.

Om chose to concentrate on two main ideas in his illustrated talk to second year students. Firstly he contrasted the top-down, large scale approaches to providing water with small scale, community focused projects. Using the massive Indira Gandhi canal as an example, he showed that, whilst it has irrigated many thousands of hectares, it has also bypassed the poorest desert villages providing drinking water mainly for urban areas.

Referring to the work of Wells for India, Om emphasised the urgent need to return to the traditional water harvesting techniques used throughout Rajasthan for many thousands of years. He blamed large scale approaches such as the Indira Gandhi canal for downgrading schemes such as taankas leading to the ancient technologies almost being lost.

A single family taanka in the Thar Desert

These two themes are an important part of Wells for India’s philosophy. The charity works with the poorest of the poor at the village level and is providing the funding to construct hundreds of water harvesting projects in three contrasting areas of Rajasthan. In the Aravali Hills region it is using gully plugs and anicuts to increase water recharge and raise water tables. In the Thar desert it is constructing taankas and beris to store monsoon rainfall and thus reduce the distance women have to walk to get their water. In the Sambhar salt lake region it is installing roof water harvesting systems.

Fields of wheat in the Aravali Hills made possible 
following the construction of check dams across the valley

The university is most grateful to Om for joining us for an afternoon. For more information about the charity and about Om’s work in Rajasthan visit the Wells for India website.

Om and Kevin