Although the Indian state of Kerala typically receives ten feet of rain during its annual spring monsoons, the state often experiences a severe water shortage during the following summer months. This is largely the result of water runoff, the excessive pumping of groundwater and the wasting of water. But in recent years, the state has been working to turn this problem around.

Water security has become a very serious issue for the state, as many of Kerala’s 4.5 million open wells have either dried up or contain brackish water. But luckily, several efforts have been taken to ensure that water shortages are no longer a major problem like they used to be. Indeed, many initiatives have already successfully brought water to many people throughout the state.

In order to meet the water needs of the 35 million people who live in Kerala, a program called Jalanidhi was created through the cooperation of the Kerala government and the World Bank. The Jalanidhi program has worked by offering people who are constructing new water-providing infrastructures with financial aid and technical assistance. This initiative has helped bring water into Kerala households since the year 2000.

Additionally, the state has been taking the approach of rainwater conservation, which has become very common throughout the last decade. The state has created large reservoirs which collect water that is used for irrigation. Another popular technique of utilizing rainwater involves using dry or discarded wells for the purposes of conservation and groundwater recharge. The wells are recharged using techniques of harvesting roof-water.

A program called Mazhapolima has been working to popularize the practice of recharging wells by offering subsidies to poorer households so that they can install roof-water harvesting systems at their homes. The roof-water is collected so that it travels through a pipe where it is filtered and eventually placed into a well for later use. So far, nearly 100,000 people have benefited from the Mazhapolima program.  

Starting in 2004, the Kerala government made it mandatory that nearly every new building would be required to make use of rainwater harvesting systems. However, many buildings ignored this requirement. In the city of Kochi, only 30% of houses are currently harvesting rainwater. Despite this shortage of participants, water levels have still increased because of the harvesting. Therefore, most citizens consider the program to be a success.

Because of climate change, population growth and urban development, threats to water security are expected to increase over time. Looking at Kerala as an example could benefit the rest of the world that might soon be facing similar problems.

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