In early March 2021, I took a break from an intense six month tour of water stressed villages in Eastern UP.

By travelling out of the village scene in a totally different direction from North India to West of India.

To spend time with my close friend's family who lived in the town of Amravati in the State of Maharashtra.

The purpose of the break & stepping away from the scene of intense village tour was to reflect and contemplate.

Reflect upon all that I had learnt and seen in the last three years and a bit since relocating from Australia to India from engaging with urban water users, NGOs working on sustainable sanitation and more recently engaging with water users in the villages.

The ultimate purpose of the break was to find answer to the question -given all that I had seen learnt and experienced,  what  is it that I could or should focus on to make a difference to the water situation in India?  

Most importantly the purpose of the break was to spend time in silence to make space for the inspiration and insight to arrive. Because that is the only way I know to figure out way forward in the journey I have set out to do my life's work.

It was a happy day when the insight and inspiration arrived, 

Just few days before World Water Day  22nd March 2021.

It was clear as crystal - and that is the mark of a true inspiration, which rises out of the deep and dark (because of the uncertainty) caverns of your heart and mind. 

First came the insight in the form of an epiphany.

The epiphany was triggered by the phrase Jal (Water) Jangal (Vegetation) Jameen (Soil) I had heard used during my village tour.

Jal Jangal Jameen - as my mind meditated on the set of alliterative words, it just dawned on me that sustainable water management has a lot more to do with management and protection of  the relationship of Jangal and Jameen with Jal  than to do with just focusing on managing the Jal as they are the two of the three critical elements of the natural water cycle , third one being the Jal. 

I also realized how during my 30 years of working as a sustainable water professional, most of the sustainable water narrative and decision-making are centred around water, water and just water. We hardly ever acknowledge the importance or status of the natural water cycle in sustainable water management in the urban context. :Let alone action it.

Another insight that came upon recalling how a Nutrition Awareness Program that was about getting the village folks to grow a kitchen garden was getting a pushback from the village community. The reason for the push back? The community members were saying we dont have any water - how can we grow and maintain a kitchen garden that requires lot of water. 

The insight this recall provided was that water is an invisible enabler. Consequently, in any social welfare, business or health programs, water at best is either an after thought or at worst is totally forgotten.

This means that water professionals need to actively position themselves as partner and collaborator to those designing leading and implementing social health education environment or a business program to offer them proactive support on water so that their program can become a success.

These insights then led to a set of questions such as -

So, why are we, those working as sustainable water professionals, not talking about healing and protecting the natural water cycle in its entirety instead of being focused only on management of just water. 

Are there organizations in the NGO space who are explicitly and single pointedly promoting the idea of restoring repairing and protecting the natural water cycle to advance the cause of sustainable water?

Is there socope for NGOs to work purely as enablers to the success of social, environmental, health and business programs?

In response to the questions, the inspiration arrived to found & register a Water Impact NGO that explicitly promotes healing and protection of Jal Jangal Jameen as well as seeks to pro-actively provide water support to social environmental and economic program leads.

The second insight led to the name Jal Smruti where Jal means water Smruti means water memory.

Together the two words loosely translating as remembering (to put) water in front of mind. 

The name and its meaning seemed to align to the mission to partner with Social Environmental & Business Program Managers & Planners so they can remember to consider sustainable water as a critical success factor and address it upfront rather than as an after-thought

The first insight helped to articulate the Vision of Jal Smruti which is

Making our world Sujalaam (Well Hydrated) and Sufalaam (Well Vegetated)

Encapsulating the natural principle of sustainable water, namely,

Abundance of water goes hand-in-hand with abundance of vegetation.

In the next posts, we will be recapping the journey of Jal Smruti in 2021 - six months after its registration in May 2021 while celebrating our achievements and sharing the lessons and takeaways to incorporate as we navigate our way into 2022.

Stay tuned!

Team Jal Smruti wishes you a happy and safe 2022