A little bit of everything

I can’t believe it, but we’re now almost three weeks through this ten-week adventure! Crazy!

After finishing up our orientation last week we discussed possible projects and areas of work with Vijay, one of SPS’s founders. I told him about my interest in SPS’s groundwater initiatives, especially the community groundwater management program. Thus, it was decided that one of my main areas of focus this summer would be working to create baseline documentation for the groundwater sharing initiatives SPS is working on in four different villages. Each village is attempting to come together and create some sort of groundwater sharing infrastructure (mostly pipe systems) and in addition, create a water-sharing agreement stating rules that the beneficiaries must follow in order to keep groundwater use at a sustainable level. Although these projects are receiving funding from ACWADAM, a Pune based NGO that is working in conjunction with SPS, each village must contribute a certain percentage of the funds required themselves. It has been decided that after three years ACWADAM and SPS will re-evaluate the situations in each village and decide whether or not further support is necessary. Thus, baseline documentation of the current status of these villages is necessary for future comparison.

A photo from a community meeting in Sevanpani, in which the current pipeline building project and accomanying watersharing agreement were discussed. Here a woman is collecting villager’s contributions towards the pipeline project.

I think one reason that I’m so interested in groundwater is that there are a surprising amount of parallels between the rural, dry lands of Madhya Pradesh and my drought ridden home state of California. Both places are at a point where the over-exploitation of water, especially for agriculture, could lead to massive problems and shortages in the future. Witnessing the groundwater sharing initiatives here in MP makes me wonder whether programs with similar ideals would work in the developed state of CA.

Beyond this groundwater sharing project, Bevan and I have also been helping with other SPS initiatives. This week we helped the RamRahim Pragati Producer Company Ltd., a farmer producer owned company started by SPS, by creating brochures since they currently have no publicity materials. In the future it also looks like we’ll be working to research SPS’s honey project (SPS buys wild honey from people who collect it from the forests and helps them to sell it through Kumbaya); which has seen a decline in the amount of honey collected and it’s quality over the past few years. I’m also working to create a set of measurable indicators on groundwater so that SPS can more comprehensively track the status of groundwater use in the area over time. Yesterday, I also found out that some grantwriting may be in my furture as Kumbaya is looking to apply for more funding. So in short, I’ll be working on a little bit of everything during my time here; which, I’m quite happy about because it means I’ll get to learn more about the many aspects of SPS’s work.

Eating lunch from my tiffin at the Udainagar office.

Besides work, we’ve been settling into our new home. Right now there are a total of eleven interns living on the Kendra, which has made the place quite lively! We’ve started having regular post-dinner movie nights with films ranging from a documentary on the Dalit struggle to the Woody Allen rom-com “Midnight in Paris.” One of the other interns is a yoga instructor so we’ve also been getting into a routine of (almost) daily yoga on our back porch. This
Sunday, our day off, we managed to go on not one, but two hikes from campus to watch the sunrise and the sunset from the hills—granted we spent the middle of the day holed up in our rooms coloring and designing henna tattoos to escape the oven-like 109F heat!!

The view from our room of the (identical) building across the way.


Sunset (photo courtesy of Bevan)


The intern gang.

Goodbye until next time, hope all of your lives are going well!

*Once again if you’re curious and want to see more pictures, feel free to check out my photo sharing site: https://www.icloud.com/sharedalbum/#B0g5nhQSTiLTpt

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About Geneva Gondak

I am a rising junior in the College of Arts & Sciences majoring in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Policy & Application. This summer I will be interning at Samaj Pragati Sahayog in Bagli, Madhya Pradesh.