‘Um Dih Lang’ is a term in the local language that can be roughly translated to ‘the water we drink together’. The inspiration for the name was derived from the name of the locality that benefitted from the intervention. ‘The community of Dom Dih Lang’ (the locality that drinks together), comprising of 10 households, has received the benefits of the conserved water from Sarangnar in Lawblei.
The World Bank Funded Community Led Landscape Management Project (CLLMP) once again demonstrated its commitment to catering to the needs of the community in South West Khasi Hills District. The project was implemented at Lawblei village, which is situated approximately 14 kms from Mawkyrwat, the district headquarters of SWKH. Lawblei is a village that is embedded on a hill and has a population of 115 households. The village faces a significant water scarcity issue, as it is situated at approximately 1600 m high. During the winter season, most of the natural sources of water located at the village dry up, and only a couple of sources strong enough to survive the entire year remain. As a result, villagers are forced to go to great lengths to fetch water, and people often stand in line from 3 am in the morning, waiting for their turn to fetch water.
Earlier Case Finding
The community of Dom Dih Lang discovered a natural source of water at Sarangnar in Lawblei, located 2 kilometers away from their locality. This water source remained accessible even during the driest seasons. To ensure the water was easily accessible, the community dug a small hole in the ground to create a makeshift pond and made contributions to purchase pipes to transport the water to their homes. Their collaborative efforts proved to be successful, and they were able to meet their goal.
However, as time passed, the community grew, and the demand for water increased significantly. With the increasing demand for water, the community began to realize the scarcity of water in their locality and started searching for assistance. Fortunately, help was soon on the way.
Upon realizing the scarcity of water in their locality, the residents of Dom Dih Lang approached the village EC for assistance. Together with the Village Natural Resources Management Committee (VNRMC), they developed a plan to provide a sustainable solution for their water needs. The VNRMC proposed the construction of a Water Conservation Dam at Sarangnar, the primary source of water for the locality. Upon visiting the site, the District Project Management Unit (DPMU) determined that the proposed dam was a necessary intervention. With the approval of the plan, an estimate was prepared, and a work order was issued and accepted by the VNRMC. The implementation process began, and the project was set in motion.
A water conservation dam is an effective way to collect and store water, which can be distributed to various locations. In addition to providing a reliable water source, the construction of dams also helps to increase the groundwater level and soil moisture in the surrounding area. This has a positive impact on the environment as well. During an interaction with a community member while preparing this case study, it was noted that the dam not only provides a source of drinking water for people but also for the wildlife living in the area. Therefore, the water conservation dam not only serves the needs of the community but also contributes to the preservation of the local ecosystem.
The Sarangnar community collaborated to accomplish a task, which took nearly a month to complete. Upon seeing the successful outcome of their work, the Dom Dih Lang locality made a decision to purchase the private land on which the intervention site was situated. The purpose of this acquisition was to take ownership and responsibility for the dam, as they alone were the beneficiaries of its water source. The community felt that by owning the land, they could better care for the dam, which was critical to their survival. To ensure a continuous supply of groundwater, they planned to cultivate banana plants along the dam’s sides, as these plants retain water. Additionally, the community selected
individuals from the locality to periodically clean the dam, as they relied on the water for drinking.They also sought assistance from the PHE department to distribute the water to their area. Through the Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) scheme, they were able to obtain pipes, and everything proceeded smoothly. The community was elated with the success of the project, and all was done to their satisfaction.
The Dom Dih Lang community expresses deep gratitude to the DPMU team and the VNRMC for their invaluable assistance during a critical time. They acknowledge the teams’ relentless efforts to ensure that the implementation was executed with near-perfection. The community also expresses immense appreciation towards the World Bank for funding the CLLMP project, as without their support, their ideas and aspirations would have remained unrealized. The community’s gratitude is
heartfelt, and they extend their warmest wishes to the team for their future endeavors. They believe that success is attainable when ordinary people exhibit extraordinary determination, and they are a testament to this statement.
In conclusion, the implementation of the Water Conservation Dam at Sarangnar in Lawblei has been a significant success story for the Dom Dih Lang community. The project has resolved the water scarcity issue that the village faced and provided a reliable source of water to the community. The community’s collaborative efforts, along with the support of the World Bank Funded Community Led Landscape Management Project and the Village Natural Resources Management Committee, have resulted in a sustainable solution for their water needs. The construction of the dam not only benefits the community but also contributes to the preservation of the local ecosystem. The Dom Dih Lang community’s acquisition of the private land on which the dam is situated demonstrates their ownership and responsibility for the intervention, ensuring that it is maintained and cared for in the long run. Overall, the project serves as a prime example of the power of community involvement and collaboration in implementing sustainable solutions to address local challenges.