There is an urgent need to create mechanisms to empower widows in Yavatmal and Vidarbha, and give them the support they need to pick up the pieces of their lives and move forward. However, such initiatives are rare. One of the few such projects for the welfare of the helpless women is run by Watershed Organisation Trust (WOTR) and its sister organization Sampada Trust.
Known as the ‘Father of people-led watershed development’ in Maharashtra, Father Bacher conceptualised, designed and launched the well-known Indo-German Watershed development Program. The successful implementation of this large-scale bilateral program laid the foundations for the establishment by the Government of India in 1999, of the National Watershed Development Fund at NABARD. This also gave impetus for the creation of a huge pool of skilled personnel and pedagogies that facilitated widespread up-scaling of participatory watershed development across the country.
Though Fr. Bacher was born and raised in Switzerland, he made Maharashtra his home early in his youth. Having come into close contact with villagers whose lives had turned into a nightmare for lack of assured water, he initiated integrated watershed and water resources development programs to address this problem. To carry this mission forward, he co-founded WOTR and served as its first Chairman.
His favourite phrases were: “Without watershed development, there is no solution to drought” and “If Water is the problem, then WOTR is the solution.” Fr. Bacher spent 60 years serving the disadvantaged and the poor in rural India.