One of the most desertic region of Rajasthan recovered 5 rivers due to the hard work of villlagers.
They digged water collectors and dams at the bottom of hills to gather rain water. Then water can infiltrate into the soil and make the watertable rise, giving birth to rivers that had disapeared.
Disappeared? yes an old man from this region (80years old) told the initiator of the project Rajendra Singh about this ancestral technique to fight against desertification and increase irrigation opportunities. But the old man said that after independance villagers got divided by elections and forgot to work together on water projects and rivers disappeared, transforming the region in an almost desert and forcing young men to work in factories in towns.
Source : Geo juin2005, "Le rajasthan se remet au vert"
I found that news extremely interesting for 2 reasons:
-fisrt it clearly shows the limit of political democracy. I mean political democracy is an invitation to division, and therefore a big brake to collective work. BUT collective work is needed to maintain good quality of life and good social relationaship within a community. hence political democracy is not favoring human developpement.
-second it clearly shows the extremely negative impacts of colonization on rural communities in the third worl during the second half of the twentieth century. At this time colonial powers such as UK and France received the "moral and economical support" from the USA. USA kept on the colonization process over poor famers minds, especially through TV and radio extension even among poor countrisides. These colonial powers imposed their views about agriculture and land managment on local farmers and led to ecologiacal disaster, because western engineers and scientists were not MORE clever than dozens of century old techniques used localy to better life in hard climatic environements.