Harvesting the Rains for Drought Mitigation in the Thar Desert (HRDM)

The Thar Desert of India is the most densely populated desert eco-system in the world where GRAVIS has been working on rainwater harvesting.

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I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria, and based on its description, I am eligible to apply to the CSV Prize 2017.

  • Yes, I'm eligible

Preferred language

  • English

Organization name

Gramin Vikas Vigyan Samiti (GRAVIS)

Year founded


Initiative stage

  • Scaling (the solution has passed the previous stages and is growing its impact on a regional or global scale)

Annual budget in 2017 (USD)

  • $1mil - $5mil

Number of beneficiaries impacted so far

  • More than 100,000

Organization type

  • Nonprofit, NGO, or citizen sector

Secondary Focus Area

  • Water
  • Rural development
  • Nutrition

Headquarters location: Country

  • India

Headquarters location: City


Location(s) of impact

The Thar Desert region of Rajathan, India



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Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?

The Thar Desert of India is a severely drought prone region and recently, there have been further challenges with growing desert population and with climate change trends affecting rainfall patters and agricultural practices. As a result, rural communities of Thar live under chronic poverty with a severe food and water shortage and with a poor health status. GRAVIS is addressing droughts in Thar, India for last three decades and has been focusing on demonstrating rainwater harvesting techniques covering 1200 villages.

Solution Summary: What is the proposed solution? What do you see as its most promising aspects for creating shared value?

We address climate change in Thar and its association with droughts. There are four groups of interventions while demonstrating the model. The first group addresses rainwater-harvesting techniques with innovation and improved quality looking at climate change related rainfall variations and associated impacts on droughts. We construct innovative and low cost structures for water conservation for domestic needs and for agricultural use. Secondly, we address innovating agriculture and horticulture practices addressed at enhanced crop yield. Thirdly, capacity building and training of farming households on climate change related aspects is taken up for knowledge building on water harvesting and climate change. Fourthly, we address data collection and documentation through baseline surveys (BLS), mid-term reviews (MTR) and evaluations of our projects to measure the impact, which is helpful to advocate for replication in other arid regions. We have covered over 1.3 million people.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Specify both the social and the environmental impact of your work

GRAVIS model has so far benefited over 1.3 million people living under droughts and poverty. Over 100,00 farming households have been able to improve crop productivity with the help of rainwater harvesting techniques. Over 1 million people and livestock in their families have access to clean drinking water. As a result the overall situation regarding food security and water security has improved significantly in about 1200 villages where GRAVIS operates. With more water in the communities, women and girls have been relieved on water fetching drudgery. Women can engage in other income generating activities and girls cal attend school. Another major positive impact has been on the health and nutrition status of the communities with more water and food available within the villages. Overall, our model has brought socio-economic development, community harmony and women empowerment in Thar. We have documented our outcomes and have expanded our knowledge in East Africa and SouthEast Asia.

Financial sustainability plan: How is this initiative financially supported? How will you ensure its financial sustainability long-term?

GRAVIS encourages formation of Community Based Organizatioons (CBOs) for community ownership and sustainability. Till date, we have facilitated the formation of over 3,000 CBOs who are leading drought mitigation in Thar. After the completion of our projects, CBOs sustain the initiatives. For our new projects, we get funds from the following: - Individual donations - about 5% - Grants - about 60% - Corporate donations - about 15% - Earned incomes - about 20%

Unique value proposition: What makes your initiative innovative? How does your project differ from other organizations working in the same field?

GRAVIS focuses on blending modern science with traditional technologies. All our rainwater harvesting work is inspired by locally designed techniques by communities, where GRAVIS has brought innovations in designs with scientific input resulting into better quality and low cost. Further, GRAVIS has explored innovations in cultivation practices to increase yield in desert conditions. Our holistic approach has helped in comprehensive and sustainable drought mitigation in Thar.

Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that sparked the beginning of this initiative.

GRAVIS was founded by a group of social activists who visited the Thar Desert and felt the need of founding a drought mitigation model. As outsiders, GRAVIS founders spent 5 years in understanding the local needs ad then finally set up a drought mitigation model which is very effective and successful. At the beginning there were no resources but there was determination and commitment.

Where did you hear about the Nestlé Creating Shared Value Prize?

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Photo of Prakash Tyagi

Dear Mr. Agrawal - thanks for sharing. We will look up at your page and will see if there is a fit.



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