In the past 40 years, the College has supported the construction of three dams that bring drinking water to more than 100 communities. These dams are not repurposed for energy—they were built to support the water needs of the people and livestock living in some of the most arid regions of the world. Two additional dams are scheduled to be constructed in 2014.

The construction of the Korsina village check dam (in the Jaipur district of Rajasthan) is a huge step forward for Barefoot College’s commitment to increasing viable water sources in dry and impoverished areas. After large scale drought in 1986, communities were left with no support from local government agencies or other outside contributions. The dam, which was completed in 2010, slows the speed of water and allows sediments and contaminants to settle; it also slows erosion and separates salt and other minerals from the water in order to better serve entire communities.

Benefits and Opportunities

The dam sits at the edge of the Sambhar salt lake. The total catchment area is three square kilometres, and more than 20 villages access drinking water from the dam. The dam has been able to generate gainful employment and access to clean water for 100,000 people and can restore groundwater levels in more than 109 hand-humps, 36 open dug wells and 31 ponds. More than 200,000 cattle will also be able to meet their drinking water needs from the dam.

Within a span of one rainy season, the Korsina dam improved the quality of the groundwater in its periphery. Notable improvements include: four more potable water sources, a reduction in defunct sources from six to two, and a significant reduction in fluoride levels in the groundwater. In the years to come, this project will increase opportunities for clean water, sustainable agriculture, education, and public health and hygiene. With additional training from the College in maintaining the dams and in keeping accounts up to date for community water usage fees, community members have a lasting commitment to—and responsibility for—the structures that bring them replenishable fresh water.