Rajendra Singh is a quiet revolutionary with a wry sense of humor. By empowering poor farmers, reviving traditional knowledge and building small rainwater ponds, the Indian activist has brought five rivers and a thousand villages back to life over the past 30 years. On August 26, Sweden’s King Carl Gustav will present the highly reputed Stockholm Water Prize to the rainwater pioneer.
On October 2, 1985, Rajendra Singh, a young ayurvedic doctor, sold all his earthly possessions and travelled to the poor state of Rajasthan with a small group of friends. He started a medical practice in the village of Bhikampura, but soon realized that the main problem of the local population was the lack of water. Decades of deforestation and mining let the groundwater table dwindle. The local farmers had abandoned traditional methods of conserving water, and their modern bore wells quickly pushed the water table down further.