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Water creates life anew
Rosette D’souza, COO Finance Center India, explains how Deutsche Bank is building sustainable rural communities with Swades Foundation and thus fighting the consequences of climate change.
In February of this year, my team and I from the India Finance Center visited one of Deutsche Bank India’s community project sites in Raigad, Maharashtra for our annual team-building retreat. Instead of building Excel spreadsheets, we built sanitation facilities for a rural school, learning first-hand about the impact of our CSR water project, which is administered in partnership with Swades Foundation.
The mission of India’s not-for-profit Swades Foundation is to empower one million lives in rural India through 360-degree development across health, education, water and sanitation and economic development and create a development model that can be replicated at scale.
Since August 2016, Deutsche Bank has been sponsoring a major water harvesting initiative with Swades Foundation to help communities in the drought prone districts of Raigad cope with the climatic challenges. Raigad, to the east of Mumbai, has a perennial scarcity of water and the region is mostly arid through summer. Deutsche Bank’s “water for agriculture” project focuses on sustainable development of the entire district and has resulted in the revival of the economy.
Rainwater harvesting structures have been constructed and maintained, and scientific methods of farming such as drip/flood irrigation on barren fields and mulching have been incorporated, resulting in water supply in the remotest of areas of Raigad. We learned from the community members that these structures and the measures taken are helping fight the drought. They are recharging the groundwater and therefore building up the water table, which has further resulted in a healthy crop, increased the income of farmers, and enhanced the livelihoods of rural households.
With regular water supply for agricultural irrigation and to every household for drinking, Raigad’s water problems are a thing of the past. The project is unique because it is designed to ensure that after Deutsche Bank stops working in the village, our achievements will help the communities sustain themselves and cope with the changing climate and drought in the future.
Furthermore, new opportunities are opening up when migrant farmers return home to Raigad from the cities. Ketan Wage is one such farmer who is currently experimenting with exotic vegetables and creating a plan for agri-tourism in the community. Ashwini Shailesh Kendre is another who worked closely with Swades and is now heading the project for the construction of a small dam in her village.
My team visited Raigad after attending a session in Mumbai last year when we met 28 Raigad farmers who explained the impact of the bank’s project and shared how their lives have changed for the better. The Deutsche Bank-funded project has had a positive impact on 7,633 households, helping over 38,000 people and given farmers access to 100 water schemes.
Deutsche Bank volunteers also regularly engage with Raigad residents through tree-planting drives and building sanitation blocks. In November 2019, 52 employees from the Pune office spent a day in Raigad and assisted the community in cultivating small gardens.
Our visit to Raigad was very enriching, and seeing how Deutsche Bank, via Swades Foundation, is helping to create a sustainable rural community makes me proud of our institution.
»The project has had a positive impact on 7,633 households«