Paani Foundation is a not-for-profit company set up in 2016 by the team of the TV series Satyamev
Jayate to fight drought in rural Maharashtra. Water scarcity is largely a man-made condition, and only
people’s efforts can solve the crisis. Paani Foundation aims to harness the power of communication to
mobilise, motivate and train people in this mission to eradicate drought. Offering training in scientific
watershed management, leadership and community-building, Paani Foundation is now working in
roughly 90% of drought-hit Maharashtra. Flagship project, the Satyamev Jayate Water Cup was
instituted in 2016 as a way to encourage villages to apply their training in watershed management. Water
Cup 2018 was held from 8th April to 22nd May 2018.
Paani Foundation was set up with the aim of making Maharashtra drought-free using the power of
communication. The team of Satyamev Jayate researched the issue of water and found that man, not
nature is largely responsible for this crisis of drought. While decentralised watershed management has
proved to be the scientific solution to this problem, the greater problem to address has been that of social
fracture. Power of unity, and people’s movement can eradicate drought. Panni foundation efforts have
been towards catalysing this movement.
Through a holistic, experiential training programme,foundation equip villagers with both technical know-
how as well as leadership skills to tackle the issue of drought in their villages. They created simple training films, an Android App as well as training manuals for this purpose, and have teams working across the state to impart this knowledge. Every year, to incentivise this programme, foundation conduct a competition called the Satyamev Jayate Water Cup, in which villages compete to win prizes for the best watershed management work. In these past two years, what started as an experiment has become a movement. The efforts of the villagers themselves have ensured that a water revolution is not far away.
The water cup
The Satyamev Jayate Water Cup is an annual competition organised by Paani Foundation in which
villages compete to do the best work in rainwater harvesting and watershed management. Every year
Paani Foundation invites all villages from selected talukas to participate in the six-week long competition.
Villages which wish to participate must nominate between three and nine citizens based on their
population, and send them to a four-day intensive training programme conducted by Paani Foundation.
Here they learn the techniques of scientific watershed management as well as leadership and
community building skills. They are also familiarised with the rules and marking system of the Water Cup.
Once the training is complete the competition begins, typically over the months of April and May in
preparation for the monsoon. Villages build water conservation structures through Shramdaan (voluntary
labour), raise money for machine work, test and treat soil, budget water usage, implement water saving
technologies, etc. Paani Foundation makes technical help available to the participants. Once the
competition is complete, villages are judged on a 100-point marking system. The top three villages in 2018 will get cash prizes of 75 lakhs, 50 lakhs and 40 lakhs respectively, and
the top village from each taluka will get a cash prize of 10 lakhs. Watershed Organisation Trust (WOTR) is the knowledge partner of Paani Foundation for the Water Cup.
Be a Volunteer
Paani Foundation has a number of opportunities for people from diverse fields to contribute and be a part
of this movement. Most volunteer activities will take place in Maharashtra in April and May, which is the
Satyamev Jayate Water Cup competition period.
One of the key activities during the Water Cup is an initiative called ‘Chala Gaavi’ (‘Back to the Villages’),
in which foundation invite people to offer Shramdaan (voluntary labour) in certain villages on 1st May –
which is both Maharashtra Day and Labour Day. It is an opportunity for city dwellers to make a trip to the
villages and lend villagers a hand in building watershed structures.Both urban and rural folk benefit and
greatly enjoy this interaction.
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