100 Water Heroes: Eli Raz

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Geologist and Researcher for the Dead Sea and Arava Research Center

Eli Raz is an Israeli Geologist and Researcher for the Dead Sea and Arava Research Center. He is widely thought of as the area’s most knowledgeable expert on sinkholes, a topic that is particularly pertinent in terms of the Dead Sea. Eli estimates that there are over 3000 sinkholes on the Israeli side of the Dead Sea, something that will continue to degenerate without active solutions.

The Dead Sea is typically fed by the Jordan River but, with unsustainable agricultural practices and various other harmful human interventions, it is fast disappearing. A significant part of this crisis is the dropping salt water levels, meaning that “fresh groundwater wells up and dissolves layers of salt, creating large underground cavities, above which sinkholes form” (Lewis, 2015).

Eli does feel a certain level of frustration, as he has been trying to alert authorities to this deadly issue for years, stating, “For more than 30 years, I’ve been studying them and trying to warn everyone—especially government officials—that if we don’t do something about the situation in the Dead Sea, the sinkholes will swallow us up.” His proposed solution involves rehabilitating the Jordan River and making use of desalination to supply the Israeli population with water. Integral to this, however, is “a systemic, cooperative regional approach to water sharing” (Prince-Gibson, 2013).

Speaking on the issue, Eli noted, “Water should not be a reason for conflict—there isn’t enough to argue about, certainly not in the Dead Sea basin. Water should be the reason for smart, regional cooperation.”

Eli is one of our #100WaterHeroes for his invaluable contributions to sinkhole research and for raising awareness of the disappearing Dead Sea.

100 Water Heroes: Dr. Ayman Rabi

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Executive Director of the Palestinian Hydrology Group

Dr. Ayman Rabi is the Executive Director of the Palestinian Hydrology Group (PHG), an NGO that is “working to improve access to water and sanitation services, and to monitor pollution and climate change in the occupied Palestinian territory.”

PHG was founded in 1987 with the goal to protect and conserve water and environmental resources, and is now the largest NGO in Palestine. In addition to their water conservation efforts, PHG aims to ensure widespread access to clean, safe water and WASH facilities. Because of the ever-worsening water crisis in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as well as neglected water-related infrastructure, PHG proceeded by “carrying out development work and promoting the more effective and efficient use and reuse of existing water resources.”

Prior to his involvement with PHG, Ayman obtained an MSc and PhD in Water Resources Engineering, as well as an MBA in Business Administration. Ayman has over 25 years of experience in water and environmental-related fields. He has contributed to numerous local and international research endeavours surrounding water and the environment.

Ayman is one of our #100WaterHeroes for his leadership of the Palestinian Hydrology Group, and for his contributions to water and environment-related research.

Linkedin: linkedin.com/in/ayman-rabi-6873294

100 Water Heroes: Queen Rania Al Abdullah

Queen Rania Al Abdullah is the queen consort of Jordan and is known for her humanitarian focus and for using her platform to advocate for women’s right and issues of sustainability. In 1995, she founded the Jordan River Foundation, which seeks to “boost employment and conservation through eco-tourism projects.”

One of her most significant contributions to environmental sustainability in Jordan was the creation of the Arab Sustainability Leadership Group. The results of their first serious project were released in 2009 in the Responsible Competitiveness in the Arab World report, highlighting what companies can do to secure financial success, as well as operating in transparent, environmentally sustainable ways. In the introduction of the report, Queen Rania stated:

"A new architecture for a sustainable global economy must be designed now; it must guide new business practices today"

In addition to her work with the Arab Sustainability Leadership Group, Queen Rania has supported local farmers and encouraged organic farming practices, hoping to “provide health, environmental, and economic benefits while also helping to address the serious water shortages in the region” (Hattam, 2009).

Queen Rania is one of our #100WaterHeroes for her humanitarian and environmental initiatives, and for using her platform to uplift and empower the local community.

Twitter: @QueenRania

Facebook: @QueenRania

Instagram: @queenrania

100 Water Heroes: Habiba Al Marashi

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President of Arabia CSR Network & Co-Founder and Chairperson of Emirates Environmental Group (EEG)

Habiba Al Marashi is the co-founder and Chairperson of the Emirates Environmental Group (EEG), an organisation that seeks to conserve the environment “through the means of education, action programs and community involvement.” Under Habiba’s leadership, EEG has successfully organised a range of initiatives surrounding environmental education, waste management and recycling, research and public campaigns.

In addition to her impactful work with EEG, Habiba has also launched the Arabia CSR Network, the first corporate social responsibility (CSR) network in Dubai. The Arabia CSR Network is the first multi-stakeholder collaboration that “engages small and large businesses and government institutions to strengthen their commitment to sustainable development across the Arab world.”

Habiba is also a co-founder of the Emirates Green Building Council, a board member of the UN Global Compact and President of the UN Global Compact Local Network for the GCC States.

Habiba is one of our #100WaterHeroes for her meaningful contributions to achieving environmental sustainability in the United Arab Emirates.

Linkedin: linkedin.com/in/habiba-al-marashi-09134b31

100 Water Heroes: Lana Mazahreh

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Conservation Program Developer at WWF Regional Office for Africa

Lana Mazahreh is the Conservation Program Developer at WWF Regional Office for Africa, where they seek to “provide innovative solutions to conserve species and their habitats and maintain key ecological services.” Prior to her work with WWF, Lana has been immersed in projects related to the environment, economic development, employment, education and social care.

Lana grew up in Jordan, where she experienced complete water scarcity first-hand, and had to adopt innovative solutions to conserving water from an early age. Her involvement in water-saving projects has continued with as she worked closely with the World Wide Fund for Nature on South Africa’s water crisis.

Lana holds an MBA degree from INSEAD Business School, as well as a BSc Degree in Business Information Systems. She is well-known for her TED talk entitled 3 Thoughtful Ways to Conserve Water, in which she reflects on what we can learn from water-scarce countries who are dealing with what is soon becoming a global issue.

Reflecting on her childhood in water-poor Jordan, Lana notes:

I grew up in Jordan, a water-poor country that has experienced absolute water scarcity since 1973. And still, in 2017, only 10 countries in the world have less water than Jordan. So dealing with a lack of water is quite ingrained in my soul. As soon as I was old enough to learn how to write my name, I also learned that I need to conserve water. My parents would constantly remind my siblings and I to close the tap when we brushed our teeth. We used to fill balloons with flour instead of water when we played.

Lana is one of our #100WaterHeroes for reminding us that we can all make small, water-saving changes to ensure that every drop counts.

Twitter: @MazahrehLana

Linkedin: linkedin.com/in/lana-mazahreh-لانا-مزاهره-78154919

100 Water Heroes: Benjamin Smith

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Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Specialist

Benjamin Smith is Project Manager of the UNICEF WASH facility in Za’atari, a refugee camp with a population of almost 80 000 people. In addition to being a WASH specialist, Benjamin holds a Masters in Civil and Environmental Engineering, and has professional experience in the fields of water and wastewater engineering, construction and project management.

Benjamin’s involvement in the Za’atari camp sees him work with both clients and contractors, leading teams in the conception and development waste and wastewater projects.

UNICEF’s support of refugee camps in Jordan has involved the provision of well-rounded WASH services, and reaches more than 100 000 refugees throughout the ares. In Za’atari refugee camp specifically, UNICEF has developed a range of WASH initiatives “to reduce cost, sustain services, and mitigate the environmental impact of the interventions.” For instance, they have drilled boreholes to lessen public reliance on external tankering, and have also built a number of mobile waste-water treatment units. WASH committees have also been put together, made up largely of Syrian refugees who “assume the responsibility for the operation and maintenance of communal WASH blocks, thereby reducing monitoring and maintenance costs.”

Benjamin is one of our #100WaterHeroes for his leadership of UNICEF’s impactful WASH initiatives in Jordan’s Za’atari refugee camp.

Linkedin: linkedin.com/in/benjamin-smith-573ab010

100 Water Heroes: Stephen Leahy

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Environmental Journalist and Author

Stephen Leahy is a celebrated environmental journalist and author with over 20 years experience covering global environmental issues. His book, Your Water Footprint: The Shocking Facts Behind Our Thirst for Earth’s Most Precious Resource, was named Canada's Best Science Book of 2014, “for it’s clarity, relevance and powerful infographics.”

From 2009-2015, Stephen worked as a Senior Science and Environment Correspondent at Inter Press Service News Agency (IPS), the world’s biggest non-profit news agency. In addition to his work with IPS, Stephen has written articles for numerous prominent publications throughout the world, such as National Geographic News, The Guardian (UK), Vice, New Scientist and dozens more.

Stephen’s extensive list of achievements also includes being co-founder of the award-winning Climate News Mosaic, an alliance of international journalists reporting on climate change. In 2012, he was the co-winner of the prestigious United Nations Global Media Prize for outstanding coverage of climate change and other environmental issues.

Stephen is one of our #100WaterHeroes for dedicating his career to spotlighting international environmental issues, and for using his platform to raise awareness of the invisible water in everything we consume.

Twitter: @StephenLeahy

Linkedin: linkedin.com/in/stephenleahy

Website: https://stephenleahy.net/

100 Water Heroes: Judy Chen

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Chairperson of the Hong Kong Committee for UNICEF

Judy Chen is the Chairperson of the Hong Kong Committee for UNICEF. Under her leadership, they seek to achieve wildlife sustainability and biodiversity “through advocation, facilitation and participation in the conservation of wildlife and habitats with research and education in Asia.”

With public donations, partnerships with corporations and special events, they raise funds to support UNICEF’s work. UNICEF Hong Kong, in particular, encourages and advocates for children’s rights by setting up youth education programmes throughout the area.

In 2013, Judy was awarded a lifetime achievement award, the ‘Contribution Prize of International Week of Science and Peace’. She is also the Chairperson of the Ocean Park Conservation Foundation in Hong Kong.

Judy is one of our #100WaterHeroes for her leadership of UNICEF Hong Kong, and for tirelessly working towards wildlife conservation in the region.

Linkedin: linkedin.com/in/judy-chen-198ab926

100 Water Heroes: Kuang Shangfu

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President of the China Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Research (IWHR)

Kuang Shangfu is the President of the China Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Research (IWHR). IWHR provides a range of water-related services, such as flood management, water resource allocation, water-saving construction practices and many more.

In addition to his position as President of IWHR, Kuang holds a PhD from Kyoto University, and is the Director of the International Research and Training Center on Erosion and Sedimentation. He is also a council member of the Chinese Hydraulic Engineering Society.

IWHR has been responsible for research and consultancy in a range of large projects throughout China. The seek to “provide scientific and technological support and assurance to the sustainable development of water resources in China.”

Kuang is one of our #100WaterHeroes for his work with IWHR, and for his commitment to sustainable development in China.

100 Water Heroes: Yu Xiaogang

Environmentalist  

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Yu Xiaogang is a Chinese Environmentalist who has pioneered cutting-edge watershed management programmes to assist local communities who have been displaced by dam construction. As a result of his work in this field, social impact assessments are now included in mass development projects.

Yu became involved in watershed programmes after writing a social impact assessment as part of his PhD thesis on a dam built at Lashi Lake. This particular dam destroyed the area’s ecosystem, devastating the livelihoods of local fishermen and farmers.

In collaboration with the local community, government and private entrepreneurs, Yu rejuvenated the area, making it one of China’s top 10 sustainable developments. To achieve this, Yu put together a local watershed management committee, a fishery association, poverty alleviation programmes and road-building projects.

At the core of his work, Yu believes in empowering local villagers and does so by involving them in workshops and training programmes. In 2004, he brought 5 village representatives to a UN symposium on dam issues in Beijing. When speaking on the involvement of local communities, Yu stated:

“Having villager participation forever changed the history of the dam decision-making process. In the past, affected peoples were silenced. They had no voice in what happened to them and had to accept decisions made by the government and dam companies.”

Yu is one of our #100WaterHeroes for his development of revolutionary watershed management programmes, and for empowering local communities to be involved in dam decision-making processes.

100 Water Heroes: Ma Jun

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Founder and Director of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs (IPE)

Ma Jun is an environmentalist, author, environmental consultant and journalist. Currently, he is the Director of the Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs (IPE) which, under his leadership produced the China Water Pollution Map - the first public database of information surrounding water pollution in China. In addition to his work with IPE, he is also the Environmental Consultant for the Sinosphere Corporation.

Prior to working with IPE, Ma was a respected journalist or the South China Morning Post (SCMP) from 1993-2000. During his time at SCMP, he wrote an array of environmentally-focused articles, and was later appointed as the chief representative of SCMP.com in Beijing.

In 1999, Ma wrote a book entitled China’s Water Crisis, the first book to deal at length with China’s environmental crisis. In 2006, Ma was named on Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People. He was also awarded the Goldman Prize in 2012, for his contributions towards publicising China’s environmental information.

Ma is one of our #100WaterHeroes for leading the development of the China Pollution Map Database, and for using his platform to raise awareness of the nation’s environmental issues.

IPE Website

100 Water Heroes: Jianming Liu

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Jianming Liu is a nine-year-old boy from Shanghai who loves sports and doing what he can to better his community. He takes part in a range of sporting activities, such as running, hiking and little iron man. In addition to his sporting ability, Jianming has been involved in a number of volunteer initiatives, such as taking care of and playing with autistic children, raising money for charity and contributing to charity exhibitions.

Jianming recently heard about #RunningDry and has since been inspired to learn more about invisible water and conserves water wherever possible.

In his new-found passion for water conservation, Jianming has said that he makes sure to turn off the faucet when brushing his teeth, chooses hand sanitiser over soap and water, and reuses household grey water. He has also been careful to save paper, because he is aware of how much water goes into everything we consume

Jianming is one of our #100WaterHeroes for passionately serving his community and doing whatever he can to make sure every drop counts!

100 Water Heroes: Debra Tan

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Director and Head of China Water Risk (CWR)

Debra Tan leads China Water Risk (CWR) in its mission to “foster efficient and responsible use of the China’s water resources by engaging the global business and investment communities in understanding and managing China’s water risk.” Launched in 2011, CWR has become a internationally respected institution in the water risk sector.

Prior to her involvement with water issues, Debra worked as a chartered accountant and investment banker. She has produced a number of reports for financial institutions that focus on the water risks surrounding the power, mining, agricultural and textiles industries. These reports “have been considered groundbreaking and instrumental in understanding not just China’s but future global water challenges.” Particularly notable was a report that resulted in the fashion industry nomination CWR as a finalist for the Global Leadership Awards in Sustainable Apparel. She is a renowned speaker who has delivered numerous key note addresses, as well as having been invited to join prestigious panel discussions, conferences and academic forums.

Under Debra’s leadership, CWR has focused on transforming China’s industrial and agricultural sectors to be environmentally sustainable, particularly because they are the country’s main polluters and make up over 80% of their overall water use. CWR’s long-term vision is to create “an investment and corporate universe that understands and responds to the inherent environmental and business risks of China’s water crisis, working together to ensure sustainable use of water resources.”

Debra is one of our #100WaterHeroes for leading China Water Risk as they seek to create industrial and agricultural sectors that are environmentally sustainable and water-conscious.

CWR Twitter

CWR Facebook

CWR Linkedin

100 Water Heroes: Lisa Genasci

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Founder and CEO of ADM Capital Foundation

Lisa Genasci is the Founder and CEO of ADM Capital Foundation (ADMCF) that “provides support to some of Asia’s most marginalised children and works to combat intransigent environmental challenges.” ADMCF works with 28 NGO partners across 8 Asian countries, providing strategic funding and various other means of support. Their core focus is to further environmental conservation initiatives throughout Asia “in a manner that is sustainable and sensitive to local cultures.”

Prior to launching ADMFC, Lisa worked at the Associated Press for 10 years and, during her time there, served 3 years as a correspondent in Rio de Janeiro, 3 years on the AP foreign desk in New York and 4 years as a financial reporter. In addition to obtaining her BA degree, she also completed an LLM in Human Rights Law.

When reflecting on ADMCF’s vision, Lisa stated:

"Our goal is to enhance what exists, be impact-driven. We want to provide not just finance but strategic engagement, housing, whatever is necessary … we start always with the need."

In all of their work, ADMCF seeks to combat environmental degradation by supporting initiatives related to marine ecology, water security, air quality, wildlife trade and forestry conservation finance.

Through her work with ADMCF, Lisa has committed herself to combating climate change and environmental degradation throughout Asia. This makes her one of our #100WaterHeroes.

100 Water Heroes: Angus Lam

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Chairperson of the Sustainable Ecological Ethical Development Foundation

Angus Lam is the Chairperson of the Sustainable Ecological Ethical Development Foundation (SEED), an organisation that looks to “promote simple and sustainable lifestyles.” Based in Hong Kong, SEED works on supporting and encouraging the growth of the organic farming sector.

SEED was established 15 years ago and has been key in fostering the organic farming movement. Their core focus is on organic farming, ecosystem preservation and human welfare. By uniting public, private and governmental powers, SEED hopes to ensure Hong Kong’s sustainable development. Going forward, they will urge private corporations to get involved “in social responsibility and fair trade.”

When speaking on his vision for SEED, Angus noted how important sustainable farming practices are for Hong Kong’s future development:

Agriculture is a living and a culture - simple, organic lifestyle is the new direction of our societal development. Organic farming provides us with safe food, while a sustainable lifestyle nurtures our mental and spiritual health.

Angus is one of our #100WaterHeroes for leading SEED in its mission to make Hong Kong sustainable by supporting the organic farming sector.

SEED Website

100 Water Heroes: Mei Ng

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Chairperson of Friends of the Earth (HK)

Mei Ng is the Chairperson of Friends of the Earth (HK), a charitable organisation founded in 1983, and one of Hong Kong’s most renowned environmentalist groups.

Friends of the Earth (HK) works on protecting the environment and “offers equitable solutions to help create environmentally sustainable public policies, business practices and community lifestyles.” Their focus is on actively engaging governments, businesses and local communities to live sustainably and act responsibly.

Mei has been involved with Friends of the Earth (HK) for over 26 years, and has widespread experience in environmental protection and public services. She initially volunteered at Friends of the Earth, and continued on as their Executive Director for 14 years. In 2000, the UN awarded her the Global 500 Laureate for her environmentalist contributions. She was also appointed as the China Environment Envoy by China’s National Environment Bureau.

Mei is one of our #100WaterHeroes for her work with Friends of the Earth, and her extensive contribution achieving environmental sustainability in Hong Kong.

Friends of the Earth (HK) Website

100 Water Heroes: Rachel Pang Hoi Yan

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Founder of Water for Free

Rachel Pang Hoi Yan is the Founder of Water for Free, an NGO to identifies and encourages the use of water dispensaries throughout Hong Kong city.

Rachel was first introduced to environmentalism after developing a breathing problem as a result of the smog in Beijing, where she worked at the time. Rachel then partook in a range of environmental campaigns whenever she had the time, and launched her full-time career in conservation in 2016.

Under Rachel’s leadership, Water for Free has been developing an app that identifies free water dispensaries throughout Hong Kong, showing the location of over 1300 water fountains. By making free, clean water more accessible, Rachel hopes to discourage and reduce bottled water consumption.

Water for Free has also been focused on lobbying the government to install more water fountains throughout the city, in places such as museums, libraries and public transport hubs.

Rachel is one of our #100WaterHeroes because of her proactive approach to reducing plastic waste by making clean water easily accessible to the people of Hong Kong.

Water for Free Facebook

Water for Free App

100 Water Heroes: Aabid Surti

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Founder of the Drop Dead Foundation

Aabid Surti is the Founder of the one-man NGO, Drop Dead Foundation (DDF), which fixes leaking taps in residential houses in Mumbai, free of charge.

He read a newspaper article in 2007 that explained that a tap that dripped once every second would lead to the waste of over 1000 litres of water a month. When he became aware of the severity of the looming global water crisis, he was incentivised to found Drop Dead, which uses the tagline, “save every drop, or drop dead.” He hired a plumber, and together, they visit houses to replace the gasket on leaking faucets.

Before he added environmentalist to his list of achievements, Aabid was already a prolific National award-winning author of over 80 books, as well as a screenwriter, cartoonist and artist. Since starting his water-saving initiatives, he was been nominated for the CNN-IBN CJ ‘Be The Change’ Award in 2010, organised the DDF short film competition to raise awareness on water conservation and had his project featured on multiple national and international media platforms.

Aabid is one of our #100waterheroes for taking the unwavering commitment to making water-saving changes in his own community, one tap at a time.

Website: http://aabidsurti.in/#

100 Water Heroes: Vedant Goel & Yusuf Soni

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Founders of Ineedsai

Vedant Goel and Yusuf Soni are IT professionals and entrepreneurs from Pune, who met at university and have been doing impactful conservation work ever since. In 2012, they collaborated to launch Ineedsai, a social organisation that “aim[s] to teach the young minds about the importance of water and sustainable use of resources.”

In addition to providing education to youth who are unable to afford it, Ineedsai has also led blood drives and traffic awareness programmes. Regarding environmental conservation projects, Vedant and Yusuf stress the importance of educating young people on the necessity of sustainable living:

Water is one of the most essential necessities of life and yet, it is becoming an increasingly scarce resource, one that needs careful planning and management. We must learn to value every drop, even if we are not directly affected by the water shortage. The state of things inspired my friend, Yusuf Soni, and I to do something about it, and who better to start with than school children? After all, they are the future keepers of our natural resources.

(Goel in Youth Ki Awaaz, 2016)

Yusuf Soni

Yusuf Soni

Vedant and Yusuf travel to schools throughout Maharashtra to educate students on water conservation. One of their initiatives saw over 10 000 students and teachers from various schools using the leftover water from their water bottles to water plants on their campus. Collecting water at the end of the day may seem simple, but it is important in that it “will not only provide an alternate way for water conservation but also help kids understand the concept of sustainable development and use of alternatives” (Sarma, 2016)

Vedant and Yusuf have also been recognised in the respected Limca Book of Records, for having gathered 5011 children to participate in My Teeth – Better Teeth, Better Health, a campaign focused on educating young people about dental hygiene.

Vedant and Yusuf are our #100WaterHeroes for recognising the importance of educating young people on water conservation and sustainable living.

Vedant Linkedin: linkedin.com/in/vedantgoel



100 Water Heroes: Shirish Apte

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Superintendent Engineer at Maharashtra Water Resources Department

Shirish Apte is the Superintendent Engineer at the Maharashtra Water Resources Department and is responsible for rejuvenating neglected water tanks in Bhandara. After being posted in Bhandara to complete a World Bank project by 2013, Shirish took the opportunity to repair and restore the 300-year-old Malgujar tanks that "were once a major water source for the district, but due to neglect, water levels had fallen” (Tare, 2017).

These Malgujar tanks were originally created by the Mulguzaars, who were “local Zamindars in eastern Vidarbha about two centuries ago and had constructed several tanks for water harvesting and irrigation” (Singh, 2017). They built and used these tanks until the 1950s, after which the government gained ownership of the tanks and charged a water tax, resulting in their abandonment.

Although over 1000 water tanks had been neglected for years, Shirish came on board in 2008 and restored some of the first tanks in over 2 years. This resulted in “recharged groundwater levels and increased agricultural output and fish production in the area,” and also nudged the district administration to restore a further 21 tanks in the area

Shirish has successfully initiated and encouraged the restoration of numerous traditional water tanks throughout Bhandara, making him one of our #100WaterHeroes

Read More: https://www.thebetterindia.com/9687/one-man-rejuvenated-traditional-water-system-maharashtra/