Bhujal Jankaar is a Hindi phrase that describes someone who knows a lot about groundwater —invaluable knowledge in a place with unreliable rainfall

Several communities in the northwest Indian states of Rajasthan and Gujarat are already home to some of these young water experts, trained up by the MARVI project, a cooperation between the University of Maharana in Rajasthan and the University of Sydney. 

Small teams from the university pass on the necessary scientific knowledge to Bhujal Jankaars, who combine it with their own working expertise. Many of the village residents didn’t go to school but now, as qualified Bhujal Jankaars, they’re training others in water management. 

The Bhujal Jankaars monitor precipitation, measure groundwater levels in local wells and pass the information on to scientists who give advice in return, including on which crops are best to plant when water is sparse. 

Farmers taking part in the project haven’t experienced any crop failures since it started back in 2012. The scientists say they want to expand the program to other parts of India. 

A film by Manish Mehta and Tabea Mergenthaler