For centuries, the communities of the Golden Desert of Rajasthan, India, have harvested and managed the precious nine inches of rainfall that their land receives each year. “For the desert society, this is no program. This is their life,” says Anupam Mishra, one of the world’s most knowledgeable people about India’s water harvesting systems. The traditionally engineered waterworks in this video–canals and rain catchments, cisterns and ponds, many of them in operation for hundreds of years–have much to teach us in the industrialized world.
Anupam Mishra is a founding member of the Gandhi Peace Foundation and a longtime environmental activist. He travels across India studying rainwater harvesting systems and learning from the communities that have created them, then presents his findings to NGOs, development agencies and environmental groups, pulling from centuries of indigenous wisdom that has found water for drinking and irrigation even in extremely arid landscapes. His books on traditional water management systems of India are considered landmark works in the field: Aaj Bhi Khare Hain Talaab (“Ponds Are Still Relevant”) and Rajasthan Ki Rajat Boonde (“The Radiant Raindrops of Rajasthan”). Mishra is working to bridge the gap between modern water management technology and India’s heritage of water harvesting, so that every community is self-sustainable and efficiently safekeeping an increasingly scarce and precious resource.