Participatory Groundwater Monitoring, Washim district, Maharashtra
Groundwater is the single most important resource in the country. Meeting the demand of water for drinking and irrigation, its sustainability is increasingly being affected by unrestrained use of the resource. With groundwater levels, declining across the country, the National Aquifer Mapping and Management Programme (NAMMP) has been specially designed to draw attention towards the management of groundwater. Its underlying focus is on ‘Groundwater Management’, a shift from the previous emphasis of ‘Groundwater Development’. Known as Participatory Groundwater Management, engagement of local communities in groundwater monitoring is a component of the recommended approach. Participatory Groundwater Monitoring has been successfully piloted through a programme titled ‘Water and Democracy’ in 2 groundwater overexploited villages of Karanja block, Washim district, Maharashtra with the support of Center for World Solidarity (CWS) and EED (Evangelischer Entwicklungsdienst – Church Development). Here a groundwater monitoring network is established and Village Watershed Committees (VWSC) strengthened on Community based Groundwater Management.
An outcome of this project is the design and development of the Groundwater Monitoring Toolkit. Part of our policy dialogue efforts, we initiated training programmes on groundwater management, mainstreaming these trainings into scheduled trainings of the Integrated Watershed Development programme (IWMP). Further, we have supported the Central Groundwater Board (CGWB) in the implementation of Tier II Training programmes in Karnataka and Chhattisgarh (Ambikapur and Raigad) under the National Aquifer Mapping and Management Programme (NAMMP). While, the primary target groups were Line Departments and Zilla Panchayats, the training was conducted on Participatory Groundwater Management.
Repair of drinking water sources, Gajapati district, Odisha
The National Water Policy, and Article 24 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (ratified by the Government of India) accord high priority to access to safe drinking water. We have supported an initiative of a non state actor to improve access to safe drinking water in a highly tribal dominated area. Extending support to objectives of the Government of Odisha, access to ‘safe’ drinking water in 13 villages of Gajapati district, Odisha is ensured through construction of diversion based channels in combination with water purification systems and distribution networks. A highly undulating and hilly topography were challenges overcome during execution of the programme titled ‘Water Assets’ (supported by Chalice International).
The Backward Region Grant Fund (BRGF) is an effort to bridge the development divide through decentralization of planning processes. Participatory in nature, local communities and the institutional mechanism at the bottom rung of the Panchayati Raj system are assigned central roles in the Programme.
As Technical Support Institution to the Ministry of Panchayati Raj and the Planning Commission, we supported and guided District Planning Committees (DPCs)/Zilla Parishads in preparation of District Plans (Perspective and Annual Plans). The 15 districts supported for Plan Preparation are located in the states of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Jkarkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Chhattisgarh and Odisha.
Livelihood Security for 600 million farmers is recognized as a National Goal. While, there are numerous approaches, the approach which is relied upon heavily, especially, in rainfed areas is that of the Watershed. Watershed Plus is a value addition to conventional watershed programmes with a focus on development of livelihoods. Initially, AFPRO is contributing to the Watershed Plus programme through preparation of Livelihood Action Plans for two watersheds in Maharashtra. Here functional capacities of Watershed Development Teams (WDT) from the Agriculture Department on assessment of livelihoods and preparation of Livelihood Action Plans have been built. Assessment and Plan preparation processes gave due recognition to the adoption of both participatory and business approaches. While, participatory approaches include stakeholder meetings especially with local communities and ensure that community preferences are taken into consideration; business approaches include assessments of technical and financial viability of livelihood opportunities and assess viabilities.
Enhancing Adaptive Capacity to Climate Change in Semi-Arid Regions of India
In India 53.4% of the geographical area comprises of arid and semi arid regions. These regions receive limited rainfall and agriculture based livelihoods are limited to productive lands. Ensuring livelihood security in these areas is critical to developing them, while ensuring that dependant natural resources are used judiciously. With scientific assessments indicating direct impacts of climate change on sectors of agriculture, its allied activities and water, building adaptive capacities of such climate sensitive sectors and livelihoods dependant on them is essential to help them cope better and improve their disaster preparedness. The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) supported an innovative project titled “Vulnerability Assessment and Enhancing Adaptive Capacity to Climate Change in Semi-Arid Regions of India (V&A)”. The project implemented in Mahabubnagar district, Andhra Pradesh and Udaipur district, Rajasthan comprised of a consortium of partners including M S Swaminathan Research Foundation, MANAGE (National Institute of Agricultural Extension Management) and AFPRO. The advisory role in the project was provided by an international consortium consisting of INFRAS and Inter Cooperation (IC). We were involved in grounding the programme activities at the grassroots or community level, connecting people and research, bringing their perspectives into research and cooperating and coordinating with grassroots NGOs, Community Based Organizations (CBO’s) and State Level Organizations. Three crucial areas considered under the project were Water (Availability and Quality), Agriculture (Food Security) and Rural Energy.
V&A is a bold attempt at presenting a scientific argument for grassroots level empowerment on Climate Change, especially among resource poor communities in remote villages. The key messages for policy consideration included the establishment of Water-seed-grain-fodder bank continuums and their maintenance, strategic investments in small scale infrastructure such as the establishment of mini agro-meteorology facilities at local level and training of ‘Climate Risk Managers, effective leveraging of Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) for inclusion of climate strategies in district plans and sensitizing National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGA) to take up work related to natural resource management, national estimation of adaptation cost for leveraging external funds etc. Interestingly, V & A aimed at climate-resilient development as distinguished from development interventions that adapt livelihood systems to climate impacts. It represented our policy dialogue with both national and state governments on climate change.
Strengthening institutional mechanisms, Satara, Osmanabad, Yavatmal and Jalgaon district, Maharashtra
Maharashtra is the first state in the country to launch a major initiative of a state-wide policy for reforming Water Supply and Sanitation Sector in the state. ‘Jalswarajya Project on Rural Water Supply and Sanitation and Aple Pani’ were two programmes which envisaged deepening of decentralization processes up to the lowest level of Panchayati Raj Institutions, so that Gram Panchayats could plan, design, construct and manage their own water and sanitation facilities.
Partnering with the Government of Maharashtra – World Bank, we have built capacitates of a range of stakeholders (District & Block teams, Support organizations, Para-professionals Technical Service Providers and village level communities) from four administrative divisions – Satara, Osmanabad, Yavatmal and Jalgaon as part of these programmes. Further, support in accreditation and monitoring of Support Organizations under next phases of the project was also extended. Two innovative concepts introduced under the project were the development of ‘Paraprofessionals’ and ‘Model villages’. While, the former were introduced to assist village committees, the latter represented an effort to demonstrate learnings from the trainings with 10 and 13 villages selected from Yavatmal and Osmanabad respectively. An aquifer water management project was also implemented under the same project in Jalgaon district with the rationale to organize communities based on the technical rationales of an aquifer.
The vision of the Jalswarajya and Aple Pani projects outlined a new approach to the management of drinking water systems in the country, one based on the active participation and ownership of local communities. Here capacity building efforts helped increase access of rural communities to improved and sustainable drinking water and sanitation services; and contributed to institutionalization of decentralized rural water supply and sanitation service delivery to rural local governments and communities.
NREGS Act is a time bound employment guarantee scheme whereby adult members of rural household willing to do public related unskilled manual work at the statutory minimum wage are provided a legal guarantee for 100 days of employment for each financial year. The right based and demand driven approach with its legal framework, has marked a paradigm shift in the mode wage employment programme was pursued in India and has been contributing towards significant reform in such programmes. Many studies indicate that giving preference to employment creation over the creation of durable productive assets under NREGS seems to have resulted in poor quality works, increasing numbers of incomplete projects and very low levels of maintenance.
The program is a joint conceptualization & effort of United Nation Development Programme (UNDP) and MoRD, Govt. of India to monitor & streamline convergence between NREGS & ongoing programs of other departments/ministries for creation of durable assets, value addition and strengthening of livelihood resource base of the rural poor. We were offered the opportunity to contribute to their endeavor of “Monitoring & streamlining convergence between NREGS and ongoing schemes of other department ministries” on behalf of NREGS Technical Secretariat (Ministry of Rural Development, Govt. of India) in two district i.e Dewas & Mandla in Madhya Pradesh and Gumla in Jharkhand. Key recommendations include strengthening of Gram Sabha for effective decision making, right composition of village monitoring committee, identification and involvement of user groups, adoption of appropriate designs for construction of check dams and other water harvesting structures, incorporation of agricultural practices in land development, geographical condition based wage rate (terrain, lithology), flexibility in working days, smaller structures for soil and water conservation etc. The key sectors having received support include development of water resources, rural connectivity, agricultural, TSC & forestry & plantation programs.
Climate Proofing – a WatershedEnhancing Adaptive Capacity to Climate Change in Semi-Arid Regions of India
The Rajasthan State Action Plan on Climate Change (RSAPCC) mentions a significant warming and a change in natural climate variability, especially in rainfall. While, there is a general decrease in rainfall, pockets of increased variability also exist. Coupled with limited and/or over exploited water resources and a dependence on climate sensitive livelihoods, the state is highly vulnerable to climate change. Representing an effort to demonstrate the recommendations of the RSAPCC is a unique collaboration between NABARD and GiZ. Leading this initiative at the grassroots level is our association with a project titled ‘A Pilot project on “Climate Proofing in Watershed – Anjeni”; While this Indo German Watershed (IGWDP) is located in Lasaria block, Udaipur district (Anjeni watershed) and has an average size of 972 ha; additional technical partners in the project were IIT Delhi and Departments and Universities associated with agriculture and animal husbandry. The goal of the project is to improve livelihoods of the community through implementation of a watershed development project, with Climate proofing aspects, by enhancing agriculture and livestock production. Here, climate change impacts (current and future challenges/opportunities) are incorporated into the watershed programme, contributing to the building ‘climate resilient’ livelihoods. The key components of the project climate proofed include soil and water conservation measures, wasteland/pastureland development approaches and agriculture and allied activities. A Mini Agro Met laboratory too has been installed in this watershed.
Hydrogeomorphological, hydrogeological and geophysical investigations were carried out in the Seethanagaram Mandal of Vizianagaram district, Andhra Pradesh to delineate the potential zones for groundwater exploration. The study area is underline by Archean group of rocks. The satellite images were examined based on visual interpretation and the study area was divided into several geomorphological units and hydrogeomorphological map have been prepared. The findings from the study include the occurrence of groundwater in weathered and fractured zones. Based on the above geomorphological and hydrogeological inference promising zones were demarcated for carrying out detailed Vertical Electrical Sounding (VES). An interactive interpretation of the VES data sharpened the information inferred from geomorphological and hydrogeological reconnaissance. Situation-specific conclusions where then drawn for recommending the well sites for drilling. The interpreted VES results correlated very closely with the drilling litholog. Pumping Test (Step Drawdown Test) was carried out in the drilled well locations to determine the specific capacity of the well.
Climate Change manifests itself through a change in the nature of extreme weather events experienced by a region. With Action Plans on Climate Change prepared at global, national and state levels, local level variations in key climatic variables create the need to conduct climate change vulnerability assessments at smaller assessment units. Supporting Global Water Partnership (GWP) under their country initiative, India Water Partnership (IWP) designed and initiated the Water and Climate Resilience Program (WACREP) for assessing vulnerabilities to climate change; and for building the resilience of poor communities of ten villages in Bhinder block, Udaipur district to it.
Major outcomes from the Participatory Rural Appraisal techniques applied under the Program have contributed to the assessment of local vulnerabilities; and in the identification of adaptation options, especially, for those dependent on climate sensitive sectors (agriculture, livestock, water resources etc). Key resilience building measures identified under the program include generation of awareness amongst farmers and local people through comprehensive technical inputs on farming, development of water resources for ensuring sustainable supply for drinking and irrigation, and active participation of the local Panchayats and other Government schemes/organizations.