The water piggy-bank for drought season

During the monsoon season in India, rain floods farm plots and ruins crops. Then comes the drought season, when the rain is desperately needed. These seasonal changes affect more than 6.72 million hectares of land, which threatens the food security of more than five million smallholder farmers and their families.

Farmers often can’t afford services to address these problems and female farmers, in particular, are even more vulnerable in these circumstances. This is because they don’t have rights over land and often have low social status. Without a husband, regardless of their circumstances, women are often exploited for labour and it’s near impossible for them to climb out of debt.

With these farmers in mind, Naireeta Services developed its do-it-yourself rainwater management tool. Dubbed Bhungroo, the tool filters, injects and stores excess rainwater within conformable subsoil to be drawn and reused when needed. In essence, it enables farmers to get rid of excess monsoon water from their farm plots while ensuring irrigation during dry spells.

"Each Bhungroo unit is designed to help emancipate rural women from abject poverty.”

While the design may look simple and thrifty, the Bhungroo is based on state-of-the-art technology. On a three-meter surface square area, it can store as much as 40 million litres of water each year.

Each Bhungroo is developed with joint ownership of five to seven smallholders. This doesn't only make it more cost-effective but also makes optimal use of excess water for more than 40 farmers.  

The technology behind the Bhungroo is open-source, patent-free and co-creative but the main principle is non-negotiable: this technology should only be used by those who truly need it. Today, more than 100,000 rural women are currently served by the Bhungroo and they’re continuously educated on its functions and how to build it themselves.

With a life span of more than 30 years, each Bhungroo pays for itself within just three monsoons. It’s now being used across India, Bangladesh, Vietnam and Ghana. But, there’s still a long way to go. More than two million people in India and 260 million across the globe are in dire need of the Bhungroo. And that’s just who the designers are working to reach.

Designers: Trupti Jain & Biplab Paul - India
UN SDGs: No poverty, Clean water & sanitation and Industry, innovation & infrastructure

Bhungroo from The Index Project on Vimeo. Music: Lee Rosevere