Building Resilience to Climate Change: Water Stewardship in Rainfed Agrarian Villages in Maharashtra, India

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In rain-dependent drylands of India, unseasonal rainfall and decrease in precipitation cause losses in agriculture-related livelihoods and water scarcity for humans and livestock. Traditional knowledge and local water governance practices of rural communities are unable to cope with these newer risks and losses. Hence, it is necessary to equip people with knowledge and tools to make informed decisions at the farm, enterprise, and community levels that enhance resilience and adaptive capacities. This chapter is based on lessons learnt and observations from implementing a Water Stewardship Initiative (WSI) that seeks to facilitate a cognitive and organizational shift by bringing science, policy, and governance together at the level of practice and community action. This initiative was launched by the Watershed Organisation Trust, a not-for-profit organization, in 100 villages in Maharashtra State, India. In the WSI, the approach adopted is of “co-production of knowledge for behavioural and institutional change” toward building the communities’ knowledge and capacity to effectively face varying weather conditions. This chapter presents the approach, key concepts, and a process applied in the WSI and highlights its potential to be taken forward in other similar regions. It has the potential to influence state policies in the water sector.

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