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In August 2016, I visited villages in the Western Maharashtra & Marathwada in order to collect case stories for a few projects that WOTR implements. This photo essay is an attempt to showcase some of more candid moments in the field and offers a small glimpse of life in rural Maharashtra.

As many parts of Maharashtra continue to be inundated with rain it is easy to forget that at this time last year much of the state was reeling under drought. While the rains this year will recharge groundwater tables, given current groundwater usage patterns it is unlikely that this water would contribute to help farmers tide over the next. KV Maitreyi looks at the root causes of water scarcity and what the state is doing to overcome it

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While some may doubt and even deny the existence of climate change, rural households in three villages of Aurangabad District in Maharashtra State, India will tell you it is a reality and a daily battle. Climate change also doesn’t act alone – it has two other accomplices – non-climatic risks and coping strategies. In India these accomplices are shaped by historic and structural factors such as caste, gender, local politics and so on, which determine adaptation or maladaptation. In this blog we look at what different caste groups are doing in response to climate change and what has driven them to adopt these practices.

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Mobile telecommunications are increasingly being used to deliver weather forecasts directly to farmers in the form of regular advisories. These advisories are also used to introduce farmers to sustainable and innovative agricultural practices that can contribute to improving yields and reducing costs. In this blog we turn to insights from behavioural research to understand how and why advisories can be used to encourage the adoption of sustainable agricultural practices and the implications of this for scaling up these services

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Poor groundwater quality during drought can have serious repercussions on health, agriculture, income and sanitation levels of the village communities. The present study looks at the upstream and downstream groundwater quality changes. The changing rainfall patterns, deteriorating groundwater quality, recurring shortage of drinking water and prolonged water scarce days across villages of Mula-Pravara sub-basin call for an urgent need to relook at the current strategies of quality assessments at local level and its dissemination through awareness programmes. The preliminary water quality study is being carried out to highlight the gaps that exist at different levels – administrative, watershed and aquifer that impede effective adaptation to poor groundwater quality of communities during times of drought.

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Perched in the remote areas of Koyna backwaters and the buffer zone of Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary are a few villages which have been following a strange pattern of life for sixty years now. Being one of the highest rainfall receiving areas of Maharashtra, water scarcity is not a problem that bothers the farmers here. Yet, a huge number of young people migrate each year to faraway cities for work and livelihood, only to come back in their ripe years to pursue agriculture. This blog post traces the path of this migration right from when it triggered to the present day scenario and reflects on its impacts on the surrounding environment and the local social fabric.

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Desertification is seen as one of the most pressing issues affecting the lives of millions across the arid and semi- arid regions of the world. It is a consequence of a series of land degradation processes, where water acts as a limiting factor for land use patterns of the ecosystem. However, owing to the current rate of human activities, this natural process has accelerated in its timeline and is posing serious risks of decreased productivity and food insecurity. This post underlines the causes and impacts of desertification. It also traces the initiatives taken by Watershed Organisation Trust (WOTR), in combating desertification and ensuring sustainable livelihoods for the communities.

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It’s 17th June. It is the World Day to combat desertification and drought.

Since 22 years now, WOTR has contributed to fight land degradation and water scarcity in the wake of climate change. Each day we strive to treat and heal the land through Ecosystem Based Watershed Development, Natural Resource Management and Climate smart agriculture in the dry lands of rural India.

As professionals in the development space, we must consciously reflect on our actions and introspect whether we practice what we preach in the name of sustainable development. With this in mind and as a part of an organisation that fights desertification and drought, we decided to have a discussion on what each of us understands by desertification, how we perceive WOTR’s work in this regard and most importantly, what can be done individually as well as unitedly to fight the concerned issue.

Through this post we bring to you excerpts of a stimulating discussion that yielded stimulating results.

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Located on the bank of the river Mula that flows through the Sangamner taluka, Borban is a small, prosperous village with the population of 600 persons. The majority of the village is engaged in agriculture and more than 95 percent of the farmers in the village belong to the small and marginal landholding category. While Borban has without a doubt benefitted from its rich resource endowment, one must also recognize the role that agricultural entrepreneurship has played. Further taking a gender perspective allows us to peel back the veneer of prosperity and ask whether indeed all is well in Borban?

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In the Western Ghats, natural springs are a source of drinking water for many vulnerable rural communities. The springs serve as an essential component for the functioning of our forest cover and dependent ecosystem, yet their conservation is a completely neglected affair. Neither the Maharashtra state policy nor our national policy framework for natural resource management address this issue. There is an urgent need for a paradigm shift from source exploitation to resources management, especially in lieu of climate change. In this post we take a look at springs located in the hilly regions of Akole and Sangamner in Ahmdednagar district. Spring sources that we have surveyed are on a declining trend (both in terms of numbers and discharge), wherein some of the perennial springs have dried up or have been encroached upon, contaminated or destroyed – making it a serious issue for water resource management.