In India, a Watershed Program Prevents Bloodshed

By Laura Sheahen

“There used to be at least one murder there every year,” said Father Gabriel Lakra, nodding towards villages we were passing in a remote area of India. “Until the CRS watershed program.”

“Uh, what?”

I was in the car with Father Gabriel and a CRS colleague, Sachin Kumar. Maybe the noise of the motor had confused me? I had to ask him to repeat himself.

“At least one murder every year,” he said.

I knew CRS’ water programs saved lives by providing clean drinking water to the thirsty. Did they also save lives in another way? Father Gabriel, who serves isolated tribal communities in the Chhattisgarh area of India, continued:

“There was no unity before the watershed program. Because of land problems, they were fighting each other. They were out of control, angry. They were killing each other.”

The program improved water sources and increased the availability of water–both for crops and for drinking–in the villages. It was the irrigation issue that was sparking violence, Sachin explained.

“Now it’s stopped,” Father Gabriel went on. “When this program came, people gathered together.

“Because of this water program, they are working together. There is peace.”

Laura Sheahen is CRS’ regional communications officer for Asia

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