This year’s 2015 monsoon was unexpectedly heavy, as we have all experienced a lack of rain in 2014, it seems to have come down twice as hard to compensate. This took many areas in South India by surprise, flooding Chennai and Cuddalore. Many smaller villages were severely affected and some almost washed away. Auroville’s reforestation has turned our landscape into a relatively conducive sponge, with tanks and check-dams and lots of trees that help the water percolate into the aquifers. In Auroville we live about 50meters above sea level, other lower lying areas caught more water that sometimes lays stagnent for many weeks. Our neighbours in the Marakanam and Vanur blocks were less fortunate, and although a little late, some Aurovilians got together to offer what they could.
Auroville’s effort for flood relief brought together primarily three groups, Aurovile Village Action Group, EcoPro and YouthLink. Of course, the Working Committee, and various other individuals played a significant role in supporting the process. With limited resources and funds, it was decided by the small team to focus on two aspects. One was to spray Effective Microorganisms (EM) in areas most affected areas. The strongest immediate benefit of EM is the counteracting of the fouling processes, the elimination of foul smell, and thereby reducing fly nuisance and the spread of diseases via flies. EM also has the capacity to restore microbial balances in the soil, and, over time, reduce the number of pathogens. The second effort made was to distribute Water Treatment sachets from Auro Aquasafe, also produced ecologically, to help those without access to clean drinking water. The work was done with a lot of support from the Village Action Group, only after consultation and with consent from the panchayat of the areas.
In South India, as we are all aware, rain is usually celebrated and welcomed with joy. These unexpected rains have brought the promise of better yields over the coming years, but have filled up our depleting aquifers only slightly. It was felt by many Aurovlians that this year’s rains, although significant, did not solve our bioregional water crisis. These rains should act as an important reminder. We live in a fragile ecosystem with an unpredictable climate and a growing need towards learning how to work together. With Human Unity being one of our community’s ideals, we witness and learn, more and more during times of crisis, about how important it is to remain connected, compassionate and innovative in building resilient solutions in times of such rapid change.