The Comprehensive Rural Health Project (CRHP) can trace its origin back over three and a half decades to a small dusty village called Jamkhed located in the heart of Maharashtra and hundreds of kilometers away from any major urban centre. After completing rigorous medical and public health training in India and the United States, two ambitious doctors with the highest qualifications, Raj and Mabelle Arole, vowed to dedicate their lives to improve the lot of the poor and marginalized.
Today, the majority of CRHP's work takes place in the many smaller surrounding villages and far-off tribal areas where the average populations are 1,000-2,000/village. The people of these villages still suffer from many of the same plagues and burdens experienced by the villagers of Jamkhed over three decades ago. CRHP continues to carry out the vision of its founders and propagate the movement of health for all, which it started eight years before Alma Ata. Through residential and mobile training activities our comprehensive approach to health and development has spread to many other regions and countries where the root causes of similar health and social problems are extreme poverty and disempowerment.
History of Water Projects
Related work not on PWX.
Watershed Development Program
The watershed development program of CRHP has made excellent use of various government schemes and NGOs specializing in this area. Coupled with expert advice and local community support this program has substantially improved the utilization, conservation, and availability of above and below-ground water. With the utilization of food-for-work programs as well as voluntary community labor, CRHP has overseen the construction of well over 200 check dams, reservoirs and other structures used to replenish and recharge the aquifers and maintain sufficient levels of water in wells throughout the year. The main objective of this program is to ensure the proper use of rainwater and to reduce its wastage along with the associated erosion of topsoil. A separate but related program involves the production of plant nurseries in 160 villages that have been set up to replant the trees cut down following years of aggressive and irresponsible logging and to reduce the consequent top-soil erosion.
CRHP has a long history of working with individual communities to promote appropriate holistic health and development with priorities identified by the communities. The people of Jamkhed Block identified early on the need and importance of addressing issues surrounding water. Water has therefore been an issue of prime concern from the very beginning when CRHP identified and utilized relevant government schemes and water-focused NGOs to oversee the installation of over 185 tube wells with hand pumps throughout the project area. Given the fact that Jamkhed is located in a draught-prone area with severe rain shortages occurring on the order of every ten years and an average annual rainfall of 14-inches, mostly during the monsoon, providing a safe and reliable water supply was a crucial step towards improving the health and quality of life for people living in this area.
Keeping in mind the fact that water-borne diseases can be spread through multiple pathways, focusing on the provision of safe drinking water alone while ignoring hygiene and sanitation issues is a strategy destined to fail. To this end CRHP introduced and encouraged the use of soak pits to members of Farmers’ Clubs as a means of reducing stagnant waste water that is otherwise a constant presence in the villages. These pungent puddles served as breeding grounds for flies and mosquitoes which spread diseases and contributed to high rates of diarrhea and malaria. Children were also at risk of coming into contact with human excreta given the proximity of the waste water to the houses. After realizing the potential benefits of this low-cost and simple yet effective technology Farmers’ Clubs worked to install soak pits at every doorstep in their villages. Wastewater could now percolate below ground rather than collect between houses.
The Comprehensive Rural Health Project, Jamkhed, has been working among the rural poor and marginalized for over 39 years. By partnering with village communities and expanding upon local knowledge and resources the project aims to effectively meet the immediate and long term needs of these groups, especially women. With values of compassion, justice, respect and trust, CRHP works to empower people, families and communities, regardless of caste, race or religion, through integrated efforts in health and development.