Water is at the heart of what WOTR does. In retrospect, water has been the recurring theme that connects every intervention that we as an organisation has undertaken till date. For us, water is that one element holding together our collective, as we push the boundaries to help build resilience among the rural populace.
It is estimated that many Indian cities will run out of water – both surface and groundwater – by 2040, owing to demand driven by rising population and mismanagement of water resources. India accounts for around 4% of the world’s water resources and 17% of the world’s population, resulting in a huge imbalance.
So what are our major interventions?
Water Budgeting (WB) is a unique approach towards ensuring optimum, equitable and most efficient use of water. This involves gaining an understanding of water availability, a community’s existing needs and requirements of water, crop planning based on water availability, optimising irrigation, equitable sharing of water, and considered decisions on groundwater use.
WOTR appoints Jal Sevaks (Water Volunteers) from the project villages as representatives to supervise and implement water budgeting activities. Jal Sevaks work as motivators and facilitators, serving village communities in implementing water stewardship. They are trained to address various challenges in water management. Each Jal Sevak leads the project activities in his own and the neighbouring 3-4 villages.
Groundwater Mapping & Aquifer Management
Rapid population growth in the last few decades has caused a rise in demand for water which inadvertently poses a stress on groundwater availability. In the past few decades, groundwater use for public supplies, agriculture, industry and so on has increased manifold. Agriculture intensification has resulted in expansion of groundwater irrigated areas in India.
This has led WOTR to motivate and capacitate rural communities where the village as a whole come together to better understand their water resources so as to enhance the supply through water harvesting structures and manage the use of water.
WOTR, meanwhile, works to ensure measures taken to access and use groundwater do not hamper the overall and long-term availability of this key resource, state groundwater regulations and water-oriented schemes are both socially and ecologically sustainable.
Water harvesting and conservation
Today, in many places, clean and safe drinking water is a distant dream. Either due to the lack of availability or lack of access to a water source. Women and girls spend hours every day making two or three rounds, just to secure potable water.
WOTR strives not only to provide safe drinking water, but also to reduce the drudgery of women, through its sanitation projects. Under this intervention, new drinking water storage tanks are constructed. Bore wells have been dug based on the existing aquifer in the village, new drinking water wells excavated and old drinking wells repaired. Besides, submersible electric pumps have been installed in the bore well to pump the water to storage tanks. Underground PVC pipelines are provided as well in order to transport water from water source to the storage tanks.
Alignment with International Frameworks
Sustainable Development Goals
How a checkdam is helping a village in Raigad, Maharashtra
WOTR constructed a check dam in Tamabati village in Khalapur, in Raigad district, Maharashtra, with support from Godrej and Boyce Manufacturing Co Ltd. This check dam is built on the main nalla in the village, near a crematorium. The dam has a storage capacity of 21 lakhs litres. At a distance of about 125 metres, there is an old well used for drinking water. People have piped water supply in the village and use the water for drinking only in the summer when there is water scarcity. In other seasons, water is used for washing clothes.
After the villagers requested to build a check dam, the work was completed in March 2020. The nalla has water till November. Now, thanks to the check dam, water will be available even after the month of November. The check dam will also ensure the well has plenty of water even during summer months and the issue of drinking water is resolved. It will also provide water for livestock.
There is a Donvat dam 400 metres downstream of this check dam. Recently, this region received good rainfall due to the Nisarga cyclone. The check dam was filled. Fish from the backwaters of Donvat dam are moving upstream and got trapped in the water cushion of the check dam. The fish were caught by the villagers. On the first day, the villagers secured a catch of 5 kg. The next day due to continuing showers, more fish were trapped and people secured a catch of around 30 kg, which benefitted around 40 families. In the coming days, more fish are expected to swim upstream.
Scale of operations
Water Stewardship undertaken in 113 villages of Maharashtra and Telangana, involving 40,000 households
Water literacy through Water Stewardship Initiative
1,200 water stewards engaging with local communities, encouraging them to adopt water efficiency measures
Water budgeting done in 164 villages of Maharashtra and Telangana
‘Jal hi Jeevan hai’ campaign conducted in 50 villages of Telangana
75 villages made village level rules for appropriate water use and crop practices. The villages presented village water stewardship plan to respective government officials
Village communities brought 37 billion litres of water annually under governance
A total of 1,514 farmers brought 1,265 ha of land under drip and sprinkler irrigation during 2017-18
16 lift irrigation units installed across different states, benefitting 141 farmers
Aquifer mapping done in 10 villages in Ahmednagar, Maharashtra
Aquifer-based groundwater management pilot initiated in Bhokardan in line with Maharashtra Groundwater Act, 2009
Water Stewardship Approach and methodology promoted through training of government officers and practitioners
Supply-side water management — repair, maintenance, construction of water harvesting structures
Demand-side water management — budgeting and promotion of water efficient practices like drip and sprinkler irrigation
Water quality measurement
Mapping of aquifers
Stakeholder engagement through Village Water Management Teams
PUBLICATIONS IN FOCUS
When it comes to water conservation and management, a major challenge is that of encouraging village communities to assume responsibility for the water resources. Village level water health charts can play a major role in this regard. In this blog, by W-CReS Executive Director Marcella D’Souza, find out how these health charts are changing attitudes for the better in the villages of Jalna district, leading to better demand side management of water.
What is the Water Stewardship Initiative and why is it important? What are the benefits to the villagers of adopting the WSI? In this video, watch WOTR Senior Researcher Eshwer Kale explain the concept of the WSI.
The chapter written by Eshwer Kale and Marcella D’Souza was published in the compendium ‘Water Conservation and Saving in Agriculture: Initiatives, Achievements and Challenges in Maharashtra’ by Water Resources Department (WRD) Government of Maharashtra. See more here