An environmental activist from the Indian state of Rajasthan has been awarded the prestigious Stockholm Water Prize for this year for his innovative water restoration efforts.
Judges said Rajendra Singh, dubbed “the Water Man of India”, used simple and cheap methods to prevent floods, restore soil and rivers, and bring back wildlife to at least 1,000 villages, BBC News reported.
The technique involves building low-level banks of earth to hold back the flow of water in the wet season and allow water to seep into the ground for future use, which, the report said, is actually a modern version of an ancient Indian practice of conserving rainwater.
Singh was trained as a medic, but when he was assigned to a rural village in arid Rajasthan, he was told the greatest need was not healthcare but drinking water.
Groundwater had been depleted by farmers, and as a result, crops failed, rivers, forests and wildlife disappeared and people left for the towns.
“When we started our work, we were only looking at the drinking water crisis and how to solve that,” Singh was quoted as saying.
“Today our aim is higher. This is the century of exploitation, pollution and encroachment. To stop all this, to convert the war on water into peace, that is my life’s goal.”
The Stockholm International Water Institute, which presented the award, said Singh’s lessons were essential to manage climate change and could be adopted in other parts of the world experiencing similar water problems.
The award has been called “the Nobel Prize for water”.
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