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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 October, 2004, 13:44 GMT 14:44 UK
Greening the desert: Ram's story
Ram Kishen, 15, Tillonia village
Ram hopes to be an engineer when he is older
Ram Kishen, 15, lives in Tillonia village in Rajasthan, India's desert state.

While much of the region suffers from chronic water shortages, Tillonia has built drains and gutters to harvest the rains and replenish dwindling groundwater supplies.

Ram describes how life has changed in the village.

Water shortage is a major problem in my village.

From when I was very small, I remember walking with my mother to the nearest well to draw water and then carry it back home.

We would use the water to drink, cook and also clean ourselves.

It was tiring doing that everyday.

I hardly got a chance to play with other children - but sometimes we would play by the well while our mothers collected water.

Green fields in Tillonia
Tillonia's fields are green because of the rainwater harvesting scheme
It hardly rains here. The earth is very dry and not much grows here.

We live very simply. We eat coarse grain bread made of millet, usually with onions and sometimes a bit of butter.

Two years ago I joined an institute called the Barefoot college here in Tillonia.

Here we are taught how to conserve water by rainwater harvesting.

It is something that people in our village used to do hundreds of years ago - now we are once again doing it.

Time for school

By collecting the rainwater instead of letting it drain away, we can use it again and again.

Drains in Tillona
Rainwater is channelled through drains to replenish groundwater
Now we don't have much of a water shortage. Women in our village don't have to walk for miles to collect water.

And children find time to play and also go to school.

I am also learning about other methods of conserving energy such as using solar energy.

My college uses solar energy for electricity. We have electricity round the clock, unlike the neighbouring villages.

We also learn how to make lanterns and light-bulbs which run on solar energy.

I want to be an engineer when I grow older and work on improving things here in my village.



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