Water tank became completely unusable after Phailin cyclone

Demonstrating the strength of women’s unity, a group of over 80 women from poor families is close to restoring a Phailin cyclone-devastated reservoir in the village under the Ganjam block of Ganjam district in the State.

Interestingly, the women have not taken any physical help from male members of the village. Each and every aspect of the restoration work is being done by the women. Now, the restoration work is almost complete. Water has already started accumulating in this manmade reservoir, and it is hoped that monsoon would fill up the reservoir to the brim.

‘Action Aid’ had provided finance for this restoration work, said Mini Mohapatra, a social activist, working in the area for over two decades.

The financing agency decided to get the work done through ‘cash for work’ scheme to benefit women involved. The women of the village were earlier organised through four women self help groups (WSHG). A panchayat ward member of the village, Lata Das said the women decided to use the reservoir for pisciculture to enhance their income. Another woman of the village, Boita Das, said after restoration the reservoir would be of better use in their day-to-day life also.

According to them the reservoir was constructed in 1999.

With time, the condition of this reservoir deteriorated and it got filled up with silt. The Phailin cyclone in October 2013 and continuous rains thereafter completely damaged the reservoir. Its embankments had got washed away completely.

The women involved in this restoration work acknowledge that their husbands and other male members of the village provided them all kinds of support for this work. But no male member was allowed to work for the restoration project. “The male members, mostly the ones involved in construction work, provided womenfolk assistance for drawing up of a plan as well as technical knowhow for this reservoir restoration project,” said Ms. Mohapatra and Ms. Lata.