Ninety families get easy access to drinking water due to advocacy by women of the community

Over 90 families in the poorest localities of wards 12 and 13 of Bodh Gaya town, did not have easy access to drinking water. The Nagar Panchayat had not installed any water points in their localities and they had to walk a long distance to collect and bring clean water home. Representations to their Ward Councillors and the Nagar Panchayat had got them no response.

Fed up, 18 members of the MahilaSafaiSamuh(street sanitation groups formed under Agragami’s sanitation program in Bodh Gaya), led by Shakuntala Devi and Devanti Devi, took their complaint up to a higher level. On 19 September 2020, they attended the review meeting of the Panchayat Raj Department, and lodged a written complaint with the Chairperson, Mr Kumar Savarjeet Yadav, Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) from Bodh Gaya. Mr Yadav promised a solution.

On 24 September 2020, work began on two borewells and installation of water pumps. A few days later, water connections from these pumps were extended to five locations in ward 13, and to one location in ward 12.

On the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti (2 October 2020), a representative of the MLA inaugurated the two water pumps and officially handed over their charge and care to two ladies whose homes were closest to the pumps—Ms Suggi Devi Paswan in ward 12, and Ms Munni Devi Paswan in ward 13. The two new borewells have made life a lot easier for the 90 families, and they are all grateful to Ms Shakuntala Devi, Ms Devanti Devi and the 18 other women of the Mahila Safai Samuhs.

For their part, Ms Shakuntala Devi, Ms Devanti Devi, and the others, acknowledge that it is Agragami’s training, provided at Mahila Safai Samuh meetings, that empowered them with information and skills on how to pursue civic authorities to get problems of their neighborhood solved.

Ms Shakuntala Devi and Ms Devanti Devi


Shanti Devi’s little herd of goats helps her family survive the hardships of COVID 19

Many poor families in the villages of Bodh Gaya district, keep a goat or two for extra income. In May 2019, as part of its livelihoods project, Agragami began to provide 69 goat-rearing families with information and services to make their goat-rearing more profitable.

Through a series of monthly meetings,Agragami staff provided information on how mortality and morbidity could be reduced through timely immunization and hygienic housing practices, growth optimized through age-appropriate feeding, and herd multiplied through timely mating and good care and feeding of pregnant goats and newborn kids.

Agragami also worked with the Veterinarian at the Government’s Tekuna Farm, Bodh Gaya to bring regular immunization services to its intervention villages. Besides holding monthly information sharing meetings, Agragami staff made visits to observe rearing practices being followed in each household and give one-on-one guidance. As a result of these inputs, 12 more families began to rear goats by March 2021.

Ms Shanti Devi with her kid goat

Ms Shanti Devi and her husband Mr Janki Yadav of Kazichak village, in Mocharim panchayat, Bodh Gaya, are very poor marginal farmers who support themselves and their three children through agricultural labour. Ms Shanti Devi first participated in Agragami’s meetings on goat rearing in October 2019. She found the meeting interesting and continued to attend every monthly meeting thereafter. As she learned more about good rearing practices, she began to take much better care of the two goats that she owned.

Convinced about the economic returns from goat rearing, between November 2019 and April 2020, she bought four more goats. Though one goat died, the birth of six kids increased her herd. Within twelve months she had adopted all the practices that she had learnt at the Agragami meetings. She fed her goats grain every day and not just left-over food as earlier. Her goat house was swept clean and kept fresh. Her herd had clean water to drink. She had the male goat castrated. She had all her goats vaccinated at the immunization camp held by the Government Veterinary Department, with the help of Agragami.

In March 2020, the COVID pandemic brought serious economic hardship to the villagers. In the following months, the couple sold three of their goats to feed their family. Ms Shanti Devi says that without the money from the sale of goats, her family would have starved. Project data tells us that the value of Ms Shanti Devi’s herd grew from Rs 6,000 in October 2018, to Rs 27,000 in March 2021, and that her cash profit after costs for the twelve-month period ending March 2021 was Rs 7,120.

Ms Shanti Devi has realized that goat rearing is a good way of earning money for the family and says that she is going to grow her herd again—as soon and as fast as she can! Her success has inspired her neighbours to take up goat rearing.