|Abstract||Gram Vikas Nav Yuvak Mandal (GVNYM), or the “New Youth Village Welfare Association,” is a youth-led, volunteer association and non-governmental organization (NGO) based in the village of Laporiya, in the Dudu block of the Jaipur district of Rajasthan in northern India. Founded by Laxman Singh to help the Laporiya community revive their desiccated soils, barren pastures, and dying livestock, GVNYM enlists village youth to work on water conservation, agriculture, and health issues. Since GVNYM’s founding in 1990, Singh has implemented an indigenous method of rainwater harvesting in Laporiya that has notably transformed the degraded, barren ecosystem into a lush and abundant one. Drawing on traditional cultural values as well as the religious beliefs and practices of Laporiya villagers, Singh and GVNYM work to raise awareness about water scarcity and water conservation in this arid region of India. Using traditional water harvesting and management techniques, such as tapping water from every path it takes within its natural watershed, building earthen percolation tanks and water storage units, and diverting stored water to garden plots and pastures through canals and aqueducts, GVNYM has succeeded in solving many of Laporiya’s serious ecological problems. To bolster and sustain these traditional systems, Singh and GVNYM have revived local customs and rituals that foster environmental responsibility, water conservation, and reverence for nature among the villagers. Small shrines dedicated to Hindu deities and local guardians of water preserves accompany the village’s many small tanks and wells. Certain trees and plants (such as Tulsi and Peepal) are worshipped regularly on household altars; seasonal and family celebrations often begin and end by honoring nature deities; and daily water drawing entails ritual blessings of the Hindu deity, Shiva, at well shrines. In addition, adaptations of traditional rituals, such as the festival of Raksha Bandhan in which “the protective tie of brotherhood” is applied to trees to symbolize the villagers commitment to protect trees as kin, have helped to forge a conservation ethic in Laporiya. Through these measures, GVNYM has succeeded in raising the water table in Lapoira from sixty feet below the surface in 1991 to merely fifteen feet below in 2002. Because of its success, Singh’s indigenous approach to ecological restoration in Laporiya has spread to some 200 neighboring villages.|
|Duration of Project||1990–Present|
GVNYM was founded in 1990 by Laxman Singh, a post-graduate in social work from Rajasthan University, who sought to alleviate the severe water shortage afflicting the village of Laporiya by reviving its water harvesting systems. In 1991, Singh began digging fifty new wells, three natural water tanks, and a water collection system composed of dykes. That same year, Singh notified villagers that any person to cut down a tree would have to submit a written apology, pay a small fine of rice, and plant another tree in its place. In 1994, GVNYM began work on fifty hectares of pastureland and helped Laporiya residents restore their old water tank, the Anna Sagar (“Ocean of Grain”). In 2001, Laporiya made the news as the sole village in the drought-prone district of Jaipur that did not require assistance in the form of water tankers.
|Mission Statement||"GVNYM seeks to mobilize villagers to restore their local ecosystems and conserve natural resources by reviving traditional resource management systems and a deep reverence for nature."|
|Partner Organizations||None Listed|
|Long-Term Goals||None Listed|
Pritha Sen, “Respect for Water Reaps Plenty,” The Changemakers Review, vol. 4, no. 2 (December 2002): 22–28.
|Additional Research Resources||None Listed|
|Contact Information||Laxman Singh
Gram Vikas Nav Yuvak Mandal
Jaipur 303 008
Ph: +91 01428 24486