Assessment of traditional rainwater harvesting system in barren lands of a semi-arid region: A case study of Rajasthan

By Basant Yadav, Nitesh Patidar, and othersonJul. 14, 2022in Case studies


  • Shallow infiltration ponds known as Chaukas were studied and field data collected.•
  • Potential groundwater recharge from Chaukas was estimated using the HYDRUS-1D model.•
  • The Chaukas allow approximately 5% additional rainfall to be available as recharge.•
  • The near surface moisture also helps develop natural grass cover used for pasture.•
  • The Chaukas have potential wide application across India and beyond.


Study region

Dudu station, Rajasthan, India

Study focus

Rainwater harvesting can be used as a method to recharge aquifers. This can happen with a variety of scales and technologies. One such example is shallow infiltration ponds (Chaukas) which recharge groundwater and increase soil moisture facilitating pastureland development. A HYDRUS-1D model was used to estimate potential groundwater recharge. The model was calibrated using field data from 2019 and validated using data from 2020. The time series of Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) was derived at annual scale to assess changes in the vegetation cover.

New hydrological insights for the region

The modeling revealed that an additional 5% of the rainfall depth was being recharged into the groundwater. In addition, the additional soil moisture was allowing natural grass cover to develop, which could be used by the local community as pastureland. These twin benefits that the local communities are realizing could be scaled up beyond Dudu, to India, and worldwide, as many regions have barren land that is slightly sloping, together with permeable soils, which are the only conditions for the construction of Chaukas. These Chauka systems have helped in sustainable water resources management in these water-stressed regions and the additional livelihood support through developed pastures for animal husbandry.

Read the entire case study published in the Journal of Hydrology: Regional Studies, Volume 42 by Science Direct

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