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Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Nitesh Mukane helped solve 14K farmers’ water crisis, boost health and income

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An NGO has helped tribal villagers by solving their water crisis. Aroehan has also helped improve health among women and kids and boost farm income.

In 1995, over 12,000 baby fatalities due to malnutrition were reported in Maharashtra’s Nandurbar district. Former chief secretary of state TK Shankaran intervened and established a field action initiative with the assistance of Mumbai’s Nirmala Niketan College of Social Work. 

Nitesh Mukane, the founder of the NGO, Aroehan, joined the initiative.

The 38-year-old, who was then the college’s student, says, “We did the survey in 2000 to find that poor water quality, accessibility, health, education, and livelihood were the villagers’ worries.” 

Although the project was completed within the next few years, the villagers’ plight infuriated Nitesh. That is when he relocated to Mokhada in 2006. 

He spoke about solar water pumps, saying, “The village residents were unable to harvest more than one crop due to insufficient rainfall and were unable to lift water from water sources due to a lack of energy. Furthermore, the women travelled long distances to obtain drinking water. There was no provision for access to clean water or the removal of contaminants. As a result, I resolved to find a workable answer.”

Nitesh enlisted the help of a Pune-based firm, Aquaplus Water Purifiers Private Limited, to find new filters that do not use energy to purify water.

He says they purchased solar-powed water pumps to lift water from sources including streams . This water is eventually purified and accessed through a tap.

According to Rahul Pathak, the startup’s managing director, the filters have a 0.01 micron membrane and clean water using gravity-generated pressure. To be functional, the tank must be located at least 10 feet above ground.

According to Manisha Raut, a villager in Mokhada, “it took up to 45 minutes, for the women to gather water from various ponds and water sources. As we also brought kids along to help, we could carry more quantity. However, the filthy water also caused disease in the kids, particularly during the rainy season.”

Manisha claims that installing the solar water pumps and filter unit cut the task time down to 5-10 minutes. She adds that the youngsters are getting sick less regularly now.

The 40 filtration units built in various communities help 14,738 villagers by providing potable water that is clean.

Aside from providing drinking water, the solar water pump system also irrigates farmland.

He claims that in 2012, they began irrigation operations to help seven farmers on 11 acres of land. They currently collaborate with over 1,000 farms.

According to Bahiram Pawar, a beneficiary farmer from Jowhar, he has roughly six acres of farmland and crops rice, ragi, and tiny millets because of the guaranteed water supply provided by the solar water pumps.

According to Bahiram, the new arrangement allows farmers to cultivate numerous crops such as fruits, vegetables, and millets twice a year. 

Aroehan also aided in the construction of barrages for water conservation and the promotion of floriculture in the region. Bahiram says that such steps have helped boost the farmers’ income.

Nitesh Mukane, explains that the NGO created a health initiative programme named ‘Village Health, Nutrition, and Sanitation Committees (VHNSC)’ in order to improve the health of the people.

He went on to say that over the years, many interventions have been implemented to address health issues among adolescents, reproductive health among pregnant and nursing mothers, early childhood care practises, and community health monitoring, such as child marriage prevention.

The efforts have aided 15,000 pregnant and new mothers, as well as 700 malnourished children in 45 villages.

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