Kanchagarahalli, situated in Yadgir district, can boast of one school. Like many districts predominantly dependent on agriculture, the drought-stricken land saw mass migration during the scorching summer months, when families moved to nearby cities seeking employment as construction laborers. By the end of the rainy season, the school attendance decline by 30%, where children would drop out of school to work in the fields, or to take care of their younger siblings.
These were not the only reasons that attendance suffered. About half the children would not attend the school because of lack of drinking water. In a harsh land where groundwater was virtually unavailable in the vicinity, this meant that students had to bring water from home to meet their needs. The only transformer that was available in the village burnt every alternate day, making it impossible for school authorities to regularly pump water into the storage tank. Girl students did not use the bathroom at all.
As part of its Aarogya-Chethana intervention, Kalike carried out a gap analysis of the school, and discovered that water supply was a major problem in the area. The supply to the school was irregular, and available water was used for consumption was contaminated by fluoride, nitrates and hydrogen sulphide.
Post-analysis, Kalike constructed water tanks with a capacity of 17,000 litres in the school campus. Based on the rainwater harvesting model, the water is stored in tanks and is utilized for drinking and cooking mid-day meals for students. The school was provided with UV drums to purify the water in order to make it potable. The students have maintained a school garden in the campus. The school walls have been repainted with messages about hygiene, nutrition, importance of water and its purification, etc. These changes have not only improved general attendance, but also the attendance of girl students in particular.
"It is because of the Kalike and Trusts’ initiative that the picture has changed today. I am happy that these changes took place during my tenure; it has made me understand the importance of collaboration, and the importance of transparency in effective school development,” says Ms. Premalatha, the headmistress of the school. ‘Our school now has better facilities than urban schools’ says Ms. Lakshmi Bai, Gram Panchyat member.
Initially, the community was not very supportive of the whole process. Post-construction, the residents became more aware of the difference between pure and contaminated water, and the advantages of using harvested rain water. Today, the members of School Development Monitoring Committees (SDMC – a committee involving parents of children studying in the said school), actively participate in school development programs and take pride in bringing about change not just for children but for the community as a whole.
"Kanchagarahalli is moving towards development, and it shows that the villagers can do wonders if they unite," says Mr. Venkoba, the former SDMC president. "Education can assure a bright future, and Kalike-Trusts showed us the road of community contribution towards development."
Kanchagarahalli is not an ordinary village today; it is a model village in Yadgir district, and placed second in the Block Level 'Parisara Snehi' School Award.