Synodical Board of Social Services CNI Drought Relief Program


The Synodical Board of Social Services (SBSS) is the development program of the Church of North India and is working with the local social service departments in 2,500 villages in Northern India to fulfill the Church’s role in social services and development. Since 1978, the SBSS has been through various processes to respond to the needs of the times. Presently, the Church of North India SBSS has embraced the theme: Building Communities of Resistance and Hope with the goal of alleviating the challenges facing the poor. One such challenge is the access to water.

Water in India is a resource that is treasured. More recently, it has become a political issue and will only continue and become more so in the future. Much of the water has become privatized in India, creating a major obstacle for the majority of farmers who are dependent upon it for their livelihood.

The SBSS is involved with many communities throughout the entire region of North India. The issue of access to water differs from region to region and is deeply rooted in the caste and class system of each. Some regions face water shortage due to geo-specific climatic conditions, while others suffer from the mismanagement of water supply.

Issues Surrounding Water Accessibility

Gender and Water Rights
The day-to-day responsibilities in carrying water from a nearby source rest solely on the women in the family. Daily chores include: washing clothes, cleaning, cooking, and cattle. Drought conditions cause hardship and increased physical labor for women as they likely have to obtain water from longer distances.

Criminalization and Water
Various mafia groups are partnering with the government to buy up small farms and exploit them for their lack of water. This is how the land ends up in the wrong hands and resources for the poor are controlled.

Water tables are reducing in the drought prone areas; however, this also is causing increased difficulty in drawing water from the ground. Excessive exploitation of ground water has led to severe depletion and the over-efficiency of pumping out scarce supplies of water by a small number of landlords. Crops are grown in areas where a limited water endowment cannot sustain over time. Forest-cover has been reduced and has resulted in erosion of the topsoil, ultimately detrimental to the water sources.

The SBSS DBSS is working throughout North India’s rural communities to address the Right to Water issue.  Following are the three areas of focus needed to resolve the issue.

Water Management
Water management will involve awareness building, creating infrastructure, and water management practices. The regions experiencing drought will receive assistance on two levels. Short-term responses will include activating the government to provide water through Tankers. Long-term responses include providing education on the need to conserve water, repairing dams, recharging bore wells, construction of tanks, and enhancing existing wells. In addition, women and unemployed youth will receive training that will provide them with employment opportunities. Infrastructure building work will also generate employment. Lastly, debates and discussions in the local congregation will be initiated in ten dioceses, covering 200 villages.

Water Harvesting
Water harvesting is a community-based approach intending to cater to those deprived of irrigation water. Surveys will be conducted to ascertain the most effective nature of this project. It will be a long-term project and it will be necessary to involve the community in the planning process and implementation. Participatory methods of water conservation will encourage the community to take ownership in the project.

Issue-Based Movements
The pivot around which this project will turn is the community mobilization of the people. The mobilization of the people under the common issue of water will encourage the communities to take part in the formation of a coalition that takes on issues related to the villages. The water-harvesting program will ensure the local level building of pressure groups with the subsequent fight for the right to water. This network will exert pressure at the national level. It will only be effective though, if there is the decisive presence of women as women are primarily the force behind access to water.


The project will take place over three years in ten dioceses. At six-month intervals, an internal evaluation will take place to assist in the development of appropriate responses in order to continue moving toward aspired goals.

The goal of the project is to preserve and protect the right to water of the marginalized communities.

Objectives to accomplish this goal include:

  • Identify ten Dioceses and conduct a thorough research and analysis on the issue of water.
  • Build the capacity of the staff and 50 village leaders on the issue of water management.
  • Build infrastructure in 100 villages.
  • Reduce the burden of women and children in fetching water and provide employment opportunities throughout the year, minimizing migration.
  • Build strong community-based organizations in all ten diocesans areas, and start a movement on the issue of the politics of water. Influence government polices and programs to replace those that have been exploited.
  • Identify and interface with like-minded organizations and build solidarity to collectively respond to water issues.
  • Support all collective actions and build a strong campaign and media advocacy.
  • Garner support of the congregations.

Global Ministries intends to walk with the Church of North India SBSS in this comprehensive effort to Water for All. 

Below is a list of special ways in which you can help the SBSS:

  • $60 will cover the cost to provide a stipend for one month for one volunteer.
  • $120 will provide job training for one woman or unemployed youth.
  • $3,000 will help improve bore holes, wells or build water tanks in rural communities.
  • $5,000 will help several communities implement Water Harvesting strategies.

Support this Ministry

To make a gift for this ministry online or by check use the online donation page.

  • 100% of your gift will be directed to Synodical Board of Social Services CNI Drought Relief Program
  • You will receive updates on the work in this area as they become available
  • Share in the vision of God’s abundant life for all people

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