Last Updated:  27/04/2023

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Project Pitch By: RAF Global


Proposed Project Title

Building Access to Safe and Reliable Drinking Water for Marginalised Communities of Thar Desert Region.


Thematic Area

Eradicating hunger, poverty and malnutrition, promoting health care, sanitation & safe drinking water

Sub Thematic Area

Drinking water & water ATMs

Project Synopsis

The Thar desert region of Rajasthan faces severe drinking water challenges given the geographic limitations and frequent droughts. The low and erratic rainfall and poor quality of groundwater coupled with terrain characteristics, leads to paucity of drinking water for human and livestock populations apart from lack of water for irrigation. In the Barmer district of Rajasthan, the key challenge is how to save water that is available during excess rainfall year and conserve it for deficit years. This project proposes to make use of existing (and invested) resources of the many Tankas (Rainwater Harvesting Tanks) that have remained the mainstay in solving drinking water problem of Thar desert region for centuries to address the drinking water concerns of the desert communities. RAF Global aims to rehabilitate 330 water tanks belonging to the most marginalized section of the society spread over 3 years.

Overview of the Proposed Project

Estimated Budget
INR 1.0 Cr - INR 5.0 Cr
Proposed Location

Key Project Partners

Project Status
Already Implemented-Replicable


Beneficiary Type (Primary): Most Marginalised Communities
Beneficiary Type (Secondary): Women
Estimated No. of Beneficiaries: 1000 and above Families
Status of Baseline Survey: Already Done

Proposed Project Description

This project proposes to address the drinking water challenges of marginalised communities in the Barmer district of desert Rajasthan by reviving traditional rain water harvesting structures. 

A large part of the Barmer district comprises intricate of flat plains with variable thickness of sand sheeting, sandy hummocks and high dunes with no drainage system. The Eastern and northeastern parts are relatively free from dunes, but its southern and western parts are intensively covered with high dunes. Scattered hills occur in the Siwana, Nakoda and Barmer regions. A landscape dominated by dunes offers meagre scope for rainwater conservation, with little runoff potential. However, the presence of sporadic hills and rocky exposures offer good sites for rainwater harvesting.

In a situation like in the Barmer district, the key challenge is how to save water that is available during excess rainfall year and conserve it for deficit years. Moreover, late onset of monsoon, early withdrawal of monsoon and prolonged dry spells between two rain showers pose additional problems.

Mitigating the drinking water problem in remote areas like the dhanis where there is no water source in the nearby vicinity is a challenge, and this challenge will possibly make it difficult for the Jal Jeevan Mission to ensure water supplies through pipelines. This proposal therefore brings attention toward making use of existing (and invested) resources of the many Tankas (Rainwater Harvesting Tanks) that have remained the mainstay in solving drinking water problem in the region for centuries. It needs to be mentioned here that large number of these structures that are critical community assets, are not functional and deserve immediate repairs to be able to serve the communities, again.

Previous Experiences

The intervention suggested has been experimented with, by RAF Global in Rajasthan, India. Around 150 households in the Barmer district had their old, dilapidated tanks repaired and are today water secure. These investments have helped beneficiary families revive use of their tanks and use the stored rainwater from these tanks. The rains during the previous monsoon (2021) and present monsoon (2022), have helped to recharge these tanks to their brim. The households have saved their hard-earned income from obtaining water through the payment of tankers and now do not have to tread long distances daily to fetch water. Women and young girls are the ones whose burden has now been reduced. Many families have been using toilets as sufficient water is available to meet such needs.

Efforts by RAF Global have included work on two broad aspects.

These are,

1. Increasing the catchment around the tank periphery and making it a cemented structure.

2. Plastering the inside walls of the water tank to help the water remain within the tank and avoid seepage.

The intervention activities are simple, and the experience suggests that with the rainfall that happens in the area, these tanks will certainly get filled every year.

RAF Global has identified the suitability of the above interventions in 79 villages falling across 22 Panchayats These 79 villages have about 13,000 households belonging to SC, ST and the General Castes. 


The project aims to rehabilitate 330 Tanka within the 79 villages as per the vulnerability of beneficiaries identified by the consultative process completely backed by the village level committee. The proposed interventions would be carried over 3 years.

Proposed Activities

The following activities and strategies will help execute the work of rehabilitating the proposed 330 water tanks spread over 3 years.

Formation of Village level Committee: In each of the identified villages, a committee comprising Panchayat representatives, community leaders and youth volunteers with equal participation of women will be constituted before the execution work gets started. The committee will support the identification of beneficiaries based on the criteria defined so that they can identify the neediest families.

Community Consultation: With the support of the village-level groups, a consultation will be done with the community and Panchayat to select the contractors and monitor the process to keep transparency. 

Meeting with the concerned Block Development Officers: Wherever RAF Global has undertaken the intervention, a standard protocol has been holding a meeting with Block Development Officers of each of the intervention blocks to share the list of beneficiaries and inform them about the work that RAF Global will undertake to reconstruct the catchment areas of the tanks of the selected beneficiaries from the selected villages. 

Planning for the Reconstruction work: Another key step is to have detailed plan to identify the contractors for construction work and procurement of quality materials. It is suggested that the planning is undertaken in consultation with the village-level committees. The vendors are to be identified through a transparent cost analysis and a transparent process.

Completion of the Reconstruction work: It is proposed that a minimum of 330 tanks are considered for intervention considering the dire requirements for water as well as, for optimising the costs.

Training of the beneficiary household members: As a broad sustainability effort and strategy to revive the interest of the community in existing assets and their proper upkeep, it is proposed that the beneficiary household members together with Village level Committees be sensitised on proper maintenance of the water tank structures and the procedures to treat water of these tanks at regular intervals. 

Sharing of the Outcome and Success stories through Workshop: It is further proposed that there be Process Documentation as well as, documentation of the overall Outcome of the intervention. These must be developed as documents that share both best practices as well as shortfalls and what could be done better.  District or state level workshop could be organised to promote the inclusion of such low-cost measures to improve access to safe drinking water in the state.

Sustainability of Intervention

When positive results of a project intervention is sustained, a desirable impact is created over a period of time. RAF Global suggests broad strategies under the proposed intervention for a higher probability of making the intervention areas in the Barmer district water secure in future, through existing water harvesting structures or tankas. 


Salient Features

  1. Ensuring drinking water security for most marginalised communities in Thar Desert Region
  2. Strengthening centuries-old traditional water harvesting structures for addressing drinking water problems in Rajasthan

About RAF Global

RAF Global  is a private, non-denominational, not-for-profit international organization committed to improving the quality of life primarily in selected countries across Africa and Asia. RAF Global has branches and affiliates in 6 countries. RAF Global works with the most marginalized individuals, families, communities in the poorest areas of Asia and Africa to improve the Quality of Life by acting as a catalyst that brings together resources, technology, systems, and effective grassroots strategies, giving better choices and control to people

for lasting change. In pursuit of its mission, RAF Global endeavors to make long-term, strategic and systemic investment around the key sectors of health, nutrition, education, and sustainable livelihoods along with advancing good governance at the sub-national level. 

Operational since 2015,  RAF Global is registered in India under section 8 of the Indian Companies Act, 2013. With long term interventions  in the Indian states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Jharkhand, it is reaching out to over 600,000 lives through multi-sectoral programmes. RAF Global presently implements a wide array of long-term and comprehensive projects in seven districts of the intervention states, across the sectors of livelihood, public health, nutrition, water and sanitation, education along with expanding the scale and scope of good governance.

RAF Global in India possesses rich and extensive experience of meaningfully engaging with both international aid agencies and the Government, across various levels.  In the past, RAF Global has collaborated with various state governments, INGOs, and CSOs in a plethora of projects aimed at driving social change and sustainable development through better convergence and optimal utilisation of resources demonstrating an effective and meaningful partnership for development.


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