Kerala: Land of letters and lakes. Kerala is a green strip of land, in the south west corner of India. The literacy rate here is 100 percent. A major portion of land is filled with water bodies, yet potable water shortage is an issue during summer in many parts of the state.
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A page in the Malayala Manorama newspaper (circulation 1.5 million copies daily) was dedicated every Tuesday/Friday to explain the technologies for RWH and highlight success stories of the common man with water conservation schemes
A web site was developed to build an online community around the activity, to collect feedback, user posts, in-depth coverage, etc.
This helps to get the support and inputs from the huge online Malayalee community living outside the state.
Mobile SMS campaigns, opinion polls, contests, user feedback, etc., on Malayala Manorama’s short code 6776
Trucks fitted with a working model of rain water harvesting system travelled throughout the state spreading the message of water conservation and RWH to the accompaniment of folk songs and folk dances.
Booklets with information on RWH methods and benefits were distributed free of cost to 1.5 million subscribers and at 500 public distribution centres in the state
A specially made video CD with popular film star Mammootty as the presenter was screened at exhibitions and hundreds of educational institutions
An award scheme with prize money of Rs 4.5 lakh was introduced to encourage educational institutions to take up water conservation and RWH activities. In 2004-2005, about 300 institutions registered for the scheme and the awards for the first year have been distributed. In 2005-2006, some 1500 institutions have registered.
Hundreds of seminars, workshops and discussion sessions were conducted throughout the state
Training camps were held for school teachers
Exhibitions with photos and working models on RWH were held throughout the state.
Student expeditions were conducted to rivers which were dying a slow death.
A painting competition for students from all over the state was held on the banks of the river Bharatapuzha in 2004 with rivers as the theme.
A campaign to protect traditional wells was launched with articles and booklets on recharging of such wells (Kerala has 450,000 fresh water wells)
An innovative RWH project was done at Kumarakom, the world famous tourist destination, to show how unused canals can be utilised for RWH
The newspaper built, at its own expense, 18 rain water harvesting systems around the state to serve as models for the public to replicate in their homes. The first one, built at the Civil Station in drought-hit Palakkad district, was inaugurated by World Water Prize winner Sunita Narain on September 15, 2004. This system is still operational.
The newspaper introduced rain water harvesting systems in its own offices across Kerala.
Prof. Yashpal, one of India's leading scientists and former Chairman of the University Grants Commission, in a letter to the World Water Forum, wrote about Malayala Manorama’s RWH campaign:
“ When I came to hear of the manner in which a large and respected newspaper had become an activist and a doer to wipe out the insult that such a rainy State as Kerala should begin to suffer from water famine, I was not too surprised. I was not surprised because Kerala has often led India in many efforts of social import. But when I learnt about some of the wide-ranging activities they encouraged, their sustained effort in educating, in mobilising projects, large and small, and in enveloping the state in a frenzy of effort, I was thrilled.
There was something new infused in the generally recognised responsibilities of media, I wish this would show up a bit more often than it does. In days of rabid free market advance with eyes focused on the bottom line, this brought me a lot of hope for the future.
I hope Kerala will never be thirsty again. And I hope its human development index will begin to be recognised as being close to the top, and if properly redefined, way beyond the top “.
'Down to Earth' an environment focussed fortnightly magazine, published by Centre for Science and Environment, Delhi, wrote in its March 15, 2005 issue :
“It is a rare occasion when a media group transcends its expected role of expressing and creating opinions and sets about to solve the problems of the people directly.... (Malayala Manorama's) campaign has stirred public consciousness on water, water conservation, especially rain water harvesting (RWH), and thousands of people are beneficiaries now“