Dwindling ground water was an acute problem in multiple regions of Karnataka. Farmers in these depended on rainwater and bore wells for irrigation. Naturally, ponds and canals dried up a few months after the receding of the monsoon.
This changed in the year 2018 with start of Project Jaldhara which replenished the groundwater levels by construction of check dams with presence in more than 5 districts i.e. Chitradurga, Chikkaballapur, Yadgir, Kolar, UttarKanada and Shimoga. The project continues to transform lives by significantly improving groundwater levels, enhancing overall crop productivity, and improving the livelihood of farmers through effective water resource management. The project created water replenish potential of over 6,85,000 cum.
In addition to this, Coca-Cola in India through its global and local Foundation provided viable solutions to farmers for cost-effective agricultural practices that led to a significant improvement in the agriculture practices and overall benefits such as increased access to silt and water for irrigation, increased knowledge about effective farming practices and increase in income. The project promoted reduction in agriculture input costs through silt usage, which is a simple and effective mechanism that naturally fertilises the land. The project also focused on establishing 7 Water Management Committees (WMC) and 4 Tank User Groups (TUG) as village-level governing bodies to drive leadership at local level and enable transparent functioning.
The interventions were designed with locally suited approaches to expand the holding capacity of existing water structures and build new ones for effective percolation, which resulted in increased groundwater levels. The project was completed with a budget of INR four crores and benefits at least 1500 households in the region. The benefits of watershed development are manifold, such as improvement in soil fertility and increased availability of water, resulting in higher crop yields, water for household purposes, increased employment opportunities, and socio-economic uplift of the community. Through this project, there has been a 90% increase in borewell water levels because of increased groundwater percolation through the desilting of water tanks. As a result of improved soil quality, 56% of farmers stated that there has been an increase in crop production post-intervention. The average area under irrigation has increased by 35% and majority farmers reports significant increase in crop yield. Farmers are able to cultivate more water-intensive crops like paddy which has helped them increase their income.