‘Waterman of India’ receives Stockholm water prize

Rajendra Singh has received the Stockholm Water Prize for his innovative water restoration efforts and improvement of water security in rural India, which has led to better living conditions for those most in need.
In its citation, the Stockholm Water Prize Committee said: “Today’s water problems cannot be solved by science or technology alone. Singh’s life work has been in building social capacity to solve local water problems through participatory action, empowerment of women, linking indigenous know-how with modern scientific and technical approaches.”
Singh lives and works in the Indian state of Rajasthan. His life changed direction in 1985 when he arrived to a small community in Rajasthan as a young medical doctor only to realise that the locals were more interested in water than his medical knowledge. Since then, and in close cooperation with local residents, he and his organisation, Tarun Bharat Sangh (TBS), have revived several rivers, brought water and life back to a thousand villages, and given hope to countless people.
“Rajendra Singh has–through water–given people capacity and courage and thereby control over their lives and hope for the future,” said Torgny Holmgren, Executive Director of the Stockholm International Water Institute. “He has shown that sustainable development–environmental, economic and social–is based on wise water management.”
The methods used by Singh are modernisations of ancient Indian ways of collecting and storing rainwater. The methods fell out of use during British colonial rule, but have now brought water back to India’s driest state.
On the significance of the prize, Singh said: “I spent the last 31 years with a spade in my hand, down in the earth, but now, this prize gives authority to my work.”