A  Community’s Journey to Water Sustainability: From Scarcity to Ownership


‘Um Dih Lang’ is the name chosen for this success story. It is a term in the local language that can be roughly translated to ‘the water we drink together’. The inspiration for this name comes from the name of the locality – ‘Dom Dih Lang’ (the locality that drinks together), which comprises of 10 households. This community was the happy recipient of the water conserved at Sarangnar, Lawblei. The name ‘Um Dih Lang’ reflects the collaborative effort involved in conserving water and emphasizes the importance of shared resources. It is a fitting name for the success story and highlights the community’s contribution in making the intervention a success.

Once again, the Community Led Landscape Management Project has come to the aid of the community in South West Khasi Hills District, this time in Lawblei village. The village is located about 14 km away from Mawkyrwat, the district headquarters of SWKH, and has a total population of 115 households. Lawblei is situated on a hill at an elevation of approximately 1600 m, making it prone to water scarcity. Villagers have to go to great lengths to fetch water, and during the winter season, most of the natural water sources in the village dry up. The few sources that remain functional throughout the year are heavily congested, with people having to stand in line from as early as 3 am to fetch water.

Fig: Overview of Lawblei Village


Earlier Case Finding

The Dom Dih Lang community located a natural water source at Sarangnar, Lawblei, just 2 km away from their locality, which remains available even during the driest season. They dug a small hole in the ground to collect the water and made a makeshift pond. Then, they contributed small amounts to purchase pipes for easy access to water in their homes. Their hard work and collaborative effort proved successful, achieving their goal. However, as time passed, the community began to grow, and the demand for water increased significantly for various purposes such as washing, cooking, cleaning, gardening, and domestic use. They began to realize the scarcity of water and sought help left and right. Fortunately, help was on its way.


The residents of Dom Dih Lang approached the village EC to ask for help, and together with the VNRMC, they came up with a solution that would help the locality for years to come. The VNRMC proposed a water conservation dam at Sarangnar, the source of life for the locality. The District Project Management Unit visited the site, saw that it was an absolute necessity, and decided to intervene. The plan was made, an estimate was done, the work order was prepared, and was gladly received by the VNRMC.

Type of Intervention Site Name Benefited Household Amount Sanctioned Work Status
Water Conservation Dam Sarangnar 10 HH 3,07,100 Completed

A water conservation dam is used to collect or store water, which can then be distributed to different locations. Dams also increase the groundwater level and soil moisture in the close vicinity of the reservoir, making a positive impact on the environment. As a community member mentioned during an interaction for the preparation of this Case Study, the dam also becomes a source of drinking water not only for the people but also for the wildlife existing in the area.

The community worked as a whole to complete the activity at Sarangnar, which took them almost a month to complete. After the implementation was done and deemed a complete success, the Dom Dih Lang community pooled their resources and purchased the private land where the dam was constructed, thereby taking full ownership of the site.

They plan to grow banana plants along the sides of the dam, as they believe these plants retain water and will ensure that their groundwater supplies will be continually replenished. They also choose people from the locality to clean the dam every once in a while as they use the water for drinking too. They turned to the PHE department for further help in distributing the water to their place. They received pipes from the Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) scheme, and then everything went uphill for them. Everything seemed a huge success in the eyes of the community living there, and everything was done to their heart’s content.

The community of Dom Dih Lang expresses their deep appreciation to the DPMU team and VNRMC for their unwavering assistance in their time of need and for ensuring a successful implementation. They also extend their gratitude to the World Bank for supporting the CLLMP project, which made their aspirations possible. Their sense of appreciation is heartfelt, and they wish the team the very best in their future endeavors, hoping that other communities can also benefit from their excellent work.

“Success is achieved by ordinary people with extraordinary determination”


Water Conservation Dam at Sarangnar and the Dom Dih Lang locality.

Leave a Reply