Groundwater development has rapidly expanded in the six decades since independence meeting the drinking and irrigation requirements, especially of the rural population. However, the hydro-geological conditions which favor the development of groundwater are complex and understanding the intricacies involved can assist in scientific and sustainable development of groundwater. Supporting the scientific development of groundwater, a study titled ‘Geohydrological Investigation in Nyoil river basin, Tamil Nadu’ was commissioned by the Government of Tamil Nadu in 1971. We were invited to contribute to this study in 3550 sq km of the Nyoil river basin. A collaboration, support and guidance from the Central and State Groundwater Boards were also received under the project. Key components of the study included mapping of local geological and hydro geological conditions, electrical resistivity surveys, geophysical well logging, and short duration pumping tests, water level fluctuations and water sample analysis. Findings from the systematic and scientific survey of the basin have served as inputs and support to local drilling programmes.
The vision of the National Food Security Act is governed by the objective to ensure that every individual has access to predefined minimum quantities of food required for a health living. While, the act adopts the approach of provision of food grains at subsidized rates to priority households, alternate approaches to food security have been explored under a programme titled ‘Empowering 2000 women and adolescent girls through homestead cultivation in Rapar block of Kutch District’; ‘Self reliant and sustainable development of women and children in rural areas and Training farmers in advanced farming techniques’ and ‘Addressing Household level Food Security issue through Homestead Cultivation and Capacity Building of the tribal community in district Yavatmal of Maharashtra’. The project is supported by United Way – Mumbai and is implemented across three states – Maharashtra, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh (presently Telengana). Here, the potential of homestead gardens in improving nutritional intake and livelihoods of targeted poor and marginal communities, especially women has been explored with vegetable cultivation actively encouraged. Behavioral change of communities on sanitation, health, hygiene and nutritional diets, especially maternal & child health have been unique components of the programme. The target groups specifically targeted include women, pregnant women, children and adolescents.
Homestead gardens are found effective methods to address household level food and nutritional security. Due to their proximity to households, they can be promoted as a channel for improved nutritional intake and livelihoods in poor and marginal communities. With the impact of the project documented in terms of an improvement in production of crops and vegetables, improvements in general health and hygiene of target groups, several of the 6000 beneficiaries have also crossed over from subsistence farming to marketing of surplus produce, expanding the scope of these gardens to include an opportunity for income generation.
Common Lands, conventionally classified as wastelands, are historically neglected classes of land due to their limited capabilities to generate revenue. In the recent past encroachments and unscientific development of these lands has led to government regulation and regularization of encroachments. While, the economic contribution of these lands is limited, there are multiple environmental benefits that these lands provide. Therefore, even while diversion of common property and its regularization continues to be a subject of dialogue, an innovative approach to scientifically develop these lands while ensuring that livelihoods are strengthened and environmental benefits are enhanced was demonstrated under the SDC AFPRO Innovations and Learning Program. Titled “Improving Livelihood Conditions of Dalit Communities through Development of Common Lands”, the project was implemented in two villages Borkhed and Mangwadgaon in Maharashtra and was aimed at assisting marginal communities (landless dalit and backward communities) in improving their livelihoods. The unique approach demonstrated under this project is the development of land and water resource with financial support in the form of a revolving fund. While, improvement in the ownership of land and water development measures was the primary factor determining the adoption of this approach, key components demonstrated included establishment of systems with regard to loan distribution and repayment and structured trainings of village institutions on operation of these systems. Determination of priority fund utilizations too formed a part of the project and included treatment of lands with soil and water conservation measures, demonstration of sustainable agricultural practices etc.
The impact of the project has been documented by an independent assessment focused on assessing the viability of the social and economic strategies demonstrated under the project and their potential in being replicated as models. While, reduction in soil erosion and improvement in productivity of land resources due to activities like bunding, diversion drain, farm ponds etc; and high repayments of loans by beneficiaries and positive impacts of the project, continued adoption of the revolving fund over longer periods of time has been limited.
As per the National Rainfed Authority of India (NRAA), rainfed areas account for 55% of the total geographical area. In the state of Maharashtra, these regions occupy greater predominance with over 80% of the geographical area categorized as rainfed. The XII Five Year Plan of the Planning Commission emphasizes the growing role of rainfed areas in the agricultural sectors contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Partnering with National Bank for Agricultural Development (NABARD), we developed 1250 ha distributed across three villages in Surnarwadi watershed, a watershed adopted under the Indo German Watershed Development Programme (IGWDP) in Dharur block, Beed district, Maharashtra. Here, the application of fundamental principles defining watershed programmes are demonstrated with wastelands treated with soil and water conservation measures. In addition to pastureland management demonstrated in this watershed, productivity and livelihoods enhancement components demonstrated include promotion of agriculture and allied activities, especially demonstration of dryland horticulture and livestock. The central institutions strengthened are Village Watershed Committees (VWC) with active participation of local communities.
Our experience of developing watersheds has found that the approaches encouraged bring with it environmental, social and economic benefits. Not only are livelihoods of rural communities residing in these areas strengthened, but also sustainable natural resource management practices are encouraged. The impact of the programme is documented in an improvement in groundwater recharge, an increase in irrigation potential, increase in cropped area, increase in cropping intensity, decrease in soil erosion, gradual improvement in capability of land and improvement in income generation. Other watersheds currently under our implementation include two watersheds located in Kalamb and Washi blocks, Osmanabad district. These watersheds have a combined area of 9762 ha and the preparation of Livelihood Action Plan (LAP) is one of the unique and new components supported under this programme.
2000 acres brought under Protective Irrigation
The Millennium Development Goalsaccord high priority to poverty and hunger through proportionate reduction in people living Below the Poverty Line and those who face chronic hunger. Programmes introduced by the Government of India to meet these goals have all relied on income generation as the recommended approach. Demonstrating this approach, an innovative project in the rainfed areas of Jharkhand, Meghalaya, Tripura, Assam and Odisha is implemented in collaboration with Sir Dorabji Tata Trust (SDTT) and a network of implementing partners. Titled ‘Enhancing Livelihoods through Diversion Based Irrigation Systems (DBIS)’, the project is implemented in 145 tribal dominated villages, six districts spread across five states (Hazaribagh district, Jharkhand; Ri Bhoi district, Meghalaya; South Tripura district, Tripura,; Karbi Anglong, district, Assam and Ganjam and Gajapati districts, Odisha).
The project developed water resources as a means to improve rural livelihoods and food security. Here, the prime focus has been on development of diversion based irrigation systems in the undulating and hilly topography characteristic of eastern and north eastern India, with efforts to conserve and manage water resources made as well. Further capacity building on improved crop management practices such as System of Rice Intensification (SRI), organic farming, dryland farming etc have been supported under the project. While, project design emphasized on formation and strengthening of Community based Organizations to ensure that infrastructure created is maintained and learning’s disseminated; recommendations from the impact assessment highlight the need to strengthen measures which ensure sustainability of the project.
Diversion Based Irrigation Systems (DBIS) have traditionally been practiced by communities residing in the hilly and undulating states of eastern and north eastern India. Here the water from springs are diverted to meet both drinking and irrigation requirements and since they operate on the principle of gravity, energy costs in transferring water are comparatively lower. With, advancements in technology the efficiency and sustainability of these systems have been improved. Over 5000 farmers from these states have been benefitted, strengthening agriculture based livelihoods and enhancing incomes generated.
Population projections (2050) reflect an Indian population well over the 1.5 billion mark. With utilizable water resources in India – surface or groundwater – more or less constant, there is growing concern that several regions in India will progress towards being ‘Water Stressed’ and eventually ‘Water Scarce’. This concern increases in the peninsular states, where groundwater has developed under complex hydro Geo thermal conditions and restoring it to its potential a challenge. In addition to this, an increase in water quality affected habitations and the impact of climate change on groundwater and its overall vulnerability is also a cause of concern.
Supporting the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation’s National Rural Drinking Water Security Pilot Project (NRDWSPP) in achieving its goal of an improved rural water supply, we demonstrated the water security approach to planning the management of water resources including preparation of participatory Water Budgets, implementation of Village Water Security Plans (VWSP), training of local institutions, orientation of government departments, monitoring of progress and evaluation of impacts. The pilot project was demonstrated in 30 Gram Panchayats, Kolar district, Karnataka with key components including source sustainability, system sustainability, sustainable service delivery, institutional sustainability and sustainable sanitation and hygiene.
According to the water budget exercises conducted in the 30 GPs, Mulbagal was found to be an overexploited block with a stage of groundwater development of 235.40%. Further the range of inter GP variations was also great. The general findings the water budget indicate that in all the GP the estimated use of groundwater for drinking and domestic purposes was negligible. However, due to over exploitation by irrigation limited groundwater was available for further development of drinking water sources.
Therefore, the following measures were demonstrated in the 30 GPs to balance the demand of water from different uses with supply:-
|Key Components||Key measures demonstrated|
Regulation in the gross cropped area, drip irrigation, shifts in cropping patterns, development/rejuvenation/renovation surface water bodies (tanks, ponds, kalyanis, school rooftops, recharge pits etc)
|System sustainability||New drinking water bore wells, revival of piped water supply (tap connections, piped water, extending the distribution network)|
|Sustainable service delivery||Installation of water meters, fixation of water tariffs|
|Institutional sustainability||Training of VWSC and Swatchtadoots on NRDWSPP, exposure visits of GP members/VWSC, Swatchtadoots/Community Mobilizers on operation and maintenance of piped water supply|
|Sustainable sanitation and hygiene||Construction of toilets|
The documented impacts of the project include a general decline in the stage of groundwater development, improvement in availability of adequate and safe water for drinking purposes, community based management of drinking water systems, improvement in coverage of household toilets and sustainability of sources. This can be attributed to convergence of capacities of multiple organizations such as the World Bank supported Water and Sanitation Program (WSP) and line departments of Panchayati Raj and Engineering (PRED), Agriculture, Horticulture, Sericulture and Land Resources. These departments were represented by Panchayat Development Officers (PDOs) and District and Taluk Coordinators (including under the NBA). Other institutions involved in the implementation of the project included the farmers, Village Water and Sanitation Committees (VWSC) and the Swatchtadoots or Community Mobilizers.
|Project outputs during the reporting period|
| Baseline (2012) End line (Till March, 2015)
According to Economic and Human Development Indicators for the state of Chhattisgarh, over 12 million people have been categorized as poor. Supporting the state in its efforts to bridge this development deficit is a lead role taken by a Non State actor working in Chhattisgarh. Through a project titled ‘Jalgram Pariyojna’ we initiated processes of development in four tribal villages of Korba district, Chhattisgarh in collaboration with Bharat Aluminum Corporation Ltd andNational Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD). Here the focus of the project has been on development of water resources including the harvesting of rainwater in farm ponds, construction of dug wells, check dams etc. Supplementing these efforts, crop and water management practices (seeds, farm nutrients, water, farm mechanization etc) have been introduced in the form of System of Rice Intensification (SRI). Other crops where improved practices have been demonstrated include vegetables and pulses. Components on livelihood diversification demonstrated under the project include cattle and fish rearing. Human and Institutional Development demonstrated under the project have targeted Village Development Councils (VDC) and farmers.
Our experience of working in the rainfed areas of Chhattisgarh is an indication that the small and marginal farmer still requires social and technical support in order to achieve food and water security, a demand unchanged since six decades of independence. Historically neglected, the development of water resources in rainfeds, offers a great opportunity to improve their livelihoods and develop these areas. Here with the high rainfall, farm ponds are a well established solution to the continuing challenge of the agricultural sector – inadequate access to a secure irrigation. Further the demonstration of these simple irrigation infrastructure have the potential to revolutionize rural livelihoods, especially since they are accompanied by multiple benefits of improved productivity, increased cropping intensity, diversification of livelihoods, income enhancement and family level nutrition. While, the project is an indication of the openness of a Corporate to integrated and simple approaches of development with measurable impacts, that additional investments are required to transform these villages into Adarsh Grams also needs to be considered.
The Groundwater Prospecting Maps (GWP) were developed under the Rajiv Gandhi National Drinking Water Project by the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) in Hyderabad with the support from the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation (MoDWS) and the Central Groundwater Board (CGWB) and have been used in the preparation of Drinking Water Security Plans.
Groundwater Prospecting maps provide users with information on the spatial extent of different hydro-geological formations, their specific yields and the depth of groundwater levels. This information has been used in estimating the total availability of water in the Gram Panchayat, potential sites for development of groundwater and sites for effective groundwater recharge and rainwater harvesting (soil and water conservation measures).
Water Safety Planning (WSP) is an integral component of Water Security Planning recommended under the National Rural Drinking Water Programme. It represents an approach to managing issues of water quality throughout the water supply chain – addressing sources of contamination from the source to the user. Water Safety Planning at the village level is a reliable approach where active participation of the local community is sought especially in those areas where sources of contamination are anthropogenic in nature. It is also an appropriate approach as due recognition is given to building of functional capacities of institutions of local relevance (Water User Groups). These institutions serve as mediums for demonstration of Water Safety Planning.
Watershed Programmes have evolved in India, since its inception in the 1970’s. The evolution is in terms of the scope of the programme and approaches adopted in designing, planning and implementation. A recent addition to Integrated Watershed Management Programme (IWMP) is the component of Monitoring, Evaluation, Learning and Documentation (MELD). Supporting Vasundhara Watershed Development Agency in executing MELD, we are monitoring and evaluating the watershed programmes implemented by Water Conservation Department in 4 lakh hectares. The watersheds are under the following phases of implementation – Preparatory Phase, Watershed Works Phase and Consolidation and Withdrawal phase and are located in Ahmadnagar, Pune and Solapur districts. As an MELD agency, key responsibilities include the establishment of an MELD system, concurrent monitoring (process and progress monitoring and facilitation of community based monitoring), periodic evaluations (phase wise evaluations and impact assessments) and learning and documentation (thematic studies and case studies). This support is extended to Village Watershed Development Committees (VWDC), Project Implementation Agency (PIA), and Watershed Development Teams (WDT) at the block and district level.