May, precisely, was one of the two months of the year in which life became the most difficult for the inhabitants of this Indian region who enduretemperatures as low as thirty degrees below zero and who live, very closely, the effects of global warming: the Himalayan glaciers from which they had always taken the water they needed to grow barley, wheat, vegetables and fruit trees melt and, the same deprive them of the water they need for irrigation, which flood their populations because of the thaw.
It is what, lately, was repeated every June when, after two months of absolute drought, therate at which the snow and ice melted from the glacier caused flash floods that not only prevented the use of water, but also damaged crops. With the onset of autumn, and in the midst of continuous pirouettes to carry out the crops, the work in the field ended without the capacity to store the water that, then, flowed at a normal rate without anyone being able to give it any use.
To stop this process that has only gotten worse, the engineer Sonam Wangchuk has foundthe perfect solution: artificial glaciers that, with the shape of Tibetan stupas (and thanks to it), collect the water that is melting to store it and release it, slowly, to guarantee the needs for continuous irrigation.
A fundraising campaign made it possible to implement one of these structures which, with the installation of more than two kilometers of pipeline to channel water from the glacier to the town,has provided one and a half million liters of water from the thaw for 5,000 trees planted by local people. This idea, which has ruined the lack of water that threatened the survival of the population, has been recognized with a Rolex, an award given to initiatives that stand out for their contribution to solving today's main challenges.
The engineer Wangchuk, who is also behind a center to train young people in green solutions (the Ladakh Student Educational and Cultural Movement, SECMOL), has decided to invest the funds obtained from this award in20 new ice towers that guarantee water supply and allow the expansion of tree plantations in this mountain desert populated by small communities that have settled around the water currents of a glacier of which, by the end of the century, between 70 and 99% could be lost due to the increased temperatures.