Twenty years ago, when 28-year-old Rajendra Singh arrived in an arid village in Rajasthan, he came with degrees in Ayurveda and Hindi and a plan to set up clinics. That’s when he was told the greatest need was not medical help but clean drinking water. Groundwater had been sucked dry by farmers, and as water disappeared, crops failed, rivers, forests and wildlife disappeared and people left for the towns. In 2008, The Guardian listed him as one of its “50 people who could save the planet”. In March 2015, he was awarded the Stockholm Water Prize, known as the Nobel Prize for water.
The citation read:
Today’s water problems cannot be solved by science or technology alone. They are human problems of governance, policy, leadership, and social resilience.Rajendra Singh’s life work has been in building social capacity to solve local water problems through participatory action, empowerment of women, linking indigenous know-how with modern scientific and technical approaches and upending traditional patterns of development and resource use.
Read how Singh harnessed an ancient technology to save thousands of parched villages here.