In some areas of India, monsoon season often provides residents with their primary source of water. But employees for Cummins India have launched a project in hopes of changing that.
Cummins’ headquarters in India is in Maharashtra, a state that’s no stranger to water scarcity. Inadequate and unreliable monsoons have resulted in successive droughts, with devastating consequences for poorer communities, and especially, farmers.
The unequal distribution of rain has led has contributed to tens of thousands farmer suicides, three million villagers seeking work, and, crop yields reduced by 50%. About 82% of the land is covered by volcanic rock, so only 4% of water is captured, resulting in runoff and soil erosion.
To address this grave concern, Cummins India employees launched the Monsoon resilient Maharashtra (MRM) project to help local communities be less dependent on monsoons. The results have been impressive.
“India is largely an agrarian economy, where lives and livelihoods of farmers depend on monsoons,” said Rajiv Batra, Chief Financial Officer for Cummins’ operations in India and a sponsor of the project.
“Inadequate, inequitable rains, undulating terrain and rocky geological structure of Maharashtra have resulted in challenges, particularly for the farmers in this state. Cummins through the MRM project is contributing to mitigate the problem and make a difference in the lives of this community.”
KNOWLEDGE INTO ACTION
Cummins employees conducted research and field studies and met with expert stakeholders to learn about possible solutions. They also spent time with local residents to capture valuable information about water usage and crop patterns.
This led to the formation of a unique scientific and technical model, in partnership with a strong team of experienced nonprofit partners. The project officially launched in four villages in 2017, focusing on areas that would give the highest impact in the region.
Cummins employees continued their engagement by planting saplings between continuous contour trenches and sowing grass seed onto bunds to collect surface run-off.
To ensure sustainability, the team encouraged community members to participate through various training sessions.
LIFE CHANGING IMPACT
The project reached 5,700 people and created 490,000 litres of additional water in its first year. Thirty acres of fallow land were converted into cultivable land and average crop productivity increased by 30 percent.
Due to this success, the project team is working this year to scale the project to 19 new villages. They are creating water budgets and conducting geological mapping studies to help make communities’ water secure. A concerted effort is also underway to educate residents on the approach and provide training to ensure water access for years to come. Already this year, they have reached almost 40,000 people.
Cummins believes that a company is only as healthy as the communities where it operates. When the ability to meet a basic need – access to water – is not met, the health of the community is clearly threatened.