Kikruma village, nestled at an altitude of 1270 metres in a rain shadow area of Phek district in Nagaland, has a unique system of water management. Centuries ago, the village evolved a self-organising system to take care of its water, forest and farm management. ‘Zabo’, which means ‘impounding water’, is an ingenious method of catching rainwater running off the mountains.

It involves the preservation of forests on the hill tops to provide the catchment for the water. At the next level ponds are dug out to hold rainwater, which is brought there through small channels. These channels are even dug across roads. They serve as reservoirs with their bottom and sides rammed and compacted so as to reduce seepage. The water is passed through cattle yards and carries the dung and urine of the animals to the fields below perfect to meet the nutritional needs of the soil.

The paddy fields are also used to rear fish, yielding about 50-60 kilogrammes of fish per hectare as an additional output. A huge variety of medicinal plants and herbs grow on the embankments of the ponds. The ponds are constructed to distribute water evenly. Inlet channels are dug to carry water from one pond to the next.

Strangely enough, this unique system has not been replicated elsewhere.

Watch the video to learn about Zabo from a Kikruma farmer.

This story was first published on India Water Portal, an initiative supported by Arghyam. IWP is India’s largest resource and platform focused on water issues.

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