We have been out and about again. This time we joined Keystone’s Water Project to a village called Hubbathala close to Conoor. The Water Project is currently involved in Springs Initiative in which several NGOs collaborate in mapping springs in the Western Ghats and educating communities about how to maintain springs in order to enhance water security in the region.
The aim of the outing was to plant some trees by a spring, which is Hubbathala community’s water source. The spring is at the top of the hill in the middle of a tea field. The owners of the tea field have cut the trees that were around the spring. This is harmful for the water source since surrounding trees improve water quality by securing the spring from landslides as well as enhance the spring’s water catchment.
The mission was to plant about 60 plants in 8 different varieties. Gokul at the Water Project got help from Kutin at the Conservation program to choose which plants to include. Trees that grow fast and plants that prevent landfall were picked for this occasion.
As the aim is to get the community involved in the maintenance of the spring, elders joined to see what was going on and some even helped with the planting.
The first step was to burn the dried trees and plants that were on the ground. The dead trees were burnt to improve the soil and to create more space for the new plants to grow.
After that we proceeded with the planting.
We asked Gokul how come only the elders are present and he told us that usually most of the younger population move to the plains to seek education or work opportunities. It is hard to get all parts of the community involved when it comes to water issues. The responsibility of fetching water as well as cleaning and washing lies in the hands of women. Still it is men who have ownership and control over water. When Keystone has meetings in the villages regarding water it is mostly men who turn up. Therefore it is important to also do household visits and talk to the women in the family. Keystone has tried to listen to women’s opinions when it comes to needs regarding water.
The village elders were asking questions about whether there will be any monitoring of the area to check tree growth and health. Kutin replied that even if he no longer would be part of Keystone he would come and visit the spring.