Climate Change & Water Access

Spiti is a high-altitude cold-desert valley lying in the rain shadow of the Himalayas. This beautiful valley receives scanty rainfall and snow is the main source of moisture.

Water is a scarce resource here in Spiti. Most villages in Spiti receive fresh water from glaciers and springs, which in turn are recharged by the winter snow. However shifts in climate and freak weather conditions – that are increasingly becoming the norm – have resulted in less snowfall, impacting the availability of water not just in the summer but in the winters too.

The spectacular but fragile Spiti Valley is at the frontlines of climate change.

Depleting Springs

Most villages in Spiti depend on springs for their drinking, domestic, and irrigation needs. In recent times, springs have started receding due to changes in the rate and pattern of snowfall that induce and help them recharge. This is primarily due to changes in climate and decreasing amounts of snowfall every year, resulting in the depletion of groundwater aquifers. So much so, that a number of springs have dried out or have significantly reduced discharge in many of the highland villages.

Crop Failures

The main livelihood in Spiti is from agriculture. Agriculture activities which are restricted to one crop a year, share a delicate balance with the climate as irrigation water is solely dependent on springs and winter snowmelt. Climate change is impacting availability of water leading to a common occurrence of drought and crop failures.

Walk for Water

An additional challenge faced in the region is the unavailability of water especially drinking water in the winter season across several villages in Spiti. Villagers have to walk for kilometers everyday just to access drinking water or water for cooking, household activities, livestock and for personal hygiene. Often, this entails taking an arduous and treacherous walk down to the river bed, where they proceed to collect 20 litres on their backs to last one day for the entire family. In the winters, villagers often have to resort to melting snow – which is possible when it does snow!

Access to safe water is a fundamental human need and therefore a basic human right
- Kofi Annan



Against the backdrop of these challenges, we have initiated a few projects to enable year-round access to water.

Spring Recharge


  • 1 artificial glacier built
  • 20000+ cubic feet of trenches dug
  • 1 traditional percolation pond revived
  • Hydrogeology assessments of 6 villages

Springs emerge from the ground naturally and are fed by groundwater aquifers. Understanding the hydrogeology of a region is the key to managing these ground water resources and identifying aquifer recharges areas. Once recharge areas are identified, structures like trenches, percolation pits and artificial glaciers can be dug or built to trap surface runoff and snow for inducing recharge.

In 2017 we began a pilot intervention in the worst affected village, Demul. Many of the springs in the village had started showing reduced flow. We built a series of check-dams along a stream lying in the spring-shed of these springs. The objective was to build an artificial glacier in the village of Demul to help recharge the groundwater aquifer that was feeding the springs. That winter Spiti received no snowfall. The artificial glacier however came to the rescue during the summer of 2018. We noticed that the springs in the spring-shed of the glacier remained unaffected while in earlier years they had shown a reduced flow.

On similar lines we have now dug contour trenches and revived a traditional percolation pond in the spring-shed of Demul to further help with recharge of springs.

Make a Difference

Come to Spiti and help build an artificial glacier or contribute to similar projects.


Every volunteer makes a difference!

Solar Water Pumps


  • 7 villages with access to drinking water through the year


Collection of water is one of the most repetitive, physically demanding and time-consuming tasks. And in a place like Spiti, this back-breaking task is magnified a thousand times over! Sources of drinking water are at a significant distance from most villages in Spiti – especially in the winters when most water sources freeze over.

Our objective is to achieve universal and equitable access to drinking water through the installation of solar water pumps. Once pumped, the water is stored in large tanks within a solar passive building to ensure the water does not freeze over during the winters. These water storage facilities have been built at a central location within easy access for the whole village.

Bringing water closer to homes to reduce time and energy spent on collecting water- especially in the bitter cold winter months – has significantly reduced drudgery and improved quality of life. Moreover, the additional time available enables communities to invest their time in other productive activities throughout the year such as childcare, family time, education, along with the opportunity for extra livelihood activities and economic opportunities. Easier access to clean water also enables enhanced personal hygiene, reduction in water-related diseases, and overall improvement in community health and village sanitation.

Make a Difference

Water is life!

Our endeavour is to provide access to drinking water to every village in spiti.

Join us in this life changing initiative

Other Initiatives

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