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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.

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Drought has been a common phenomenon in the Marathwada region of Maharashtra. In recent decades changes in agricultural patterns and intensified resource use has eroded the capacity of communities to cope with these crisis. This post attempts to capture these changes and understand vulnerabilities from a community perspective using the tool- CoDriVE-PD.

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The Maharashtra Groundwater (Development and Management) Act 2009 presents an answer to some of the state’s water scarcity woes and is an important step towards sustainable groundwater management in the State. However, the institutional structure put forth by the Act is unwieldy and poorly outlined. There is a need for innovative institutional designs that would enable operationalization of this act. Given the informational and knowledge requirements for understanding groundwater, coupled with the challenges of mobilizing support for its sustainable management , there is a need to create a cadre of “jalsevaks”. These jalsevaks will work with communities to demystify groundwater, and navigate the complex socio-political terrain in order to arrive at more equitable and sustainable outcomes.

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In Maharashtra, water scarcity has emerged as the crisis of our times. In many of the worst affected districts it has become a public order issue and the state authorities devote vast resources for providing drinking water. While consecutive droughts are the proximate cause of the crisis, the widespread unregulated exploitation of groundwater is a major underlying cause. While Maharashtra has attempted to regulate groundwater through legislation, implementation of the same remains a challenge. This post takes a look at the challenges for managing groundwater resources at the local level and how aspects of legislation and policy unfold on the ground.

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