Category Research into Use

It’s getting hot in here: Exploring how different housing structures and livelihoods affect vulnerability to heat-waves in rural India

The year 2016 was the warmest year ever recorded globally according to the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD).The effects of these rising temperatures are felt acutely in Vidarbha region of Maharashtra, India where heat-waves are a common phenomenon. The impacts of these heat-waves are understudied as most existing studies focus primarily on urban areas.

Deteriorating Groundwater – Is this an irrevocable process?

Our perceptions and plans to address issues revolving around our water resources need to adapt if we are to respond effectively to the challenge of climate change. Most of our surface water bodies and aquifers are stressed not just in terms of availability of water but also at the quality front. The reasons can be attributed to changes in the timing, form and intensity of precipitation; changes in agricultural practices, urbanisation, industrial pollution and the use of surface and groundwater . It has the potential to have a long lasting impact on various ecosystems and their services that we are completely dependent on. The impacts are likely to affect the ongoing and future programs designed to protect water quality, public health, safety and livelihood of people. With this in mind, WOTR’s Groundwater and Ecology team continued to explore villages in their second leg of Mula-Pravara sub-basinal seasonal study to assess the reasons for the declining water quality.

Seeing the trees and the forest; understanding the equal importance of micro irrigation and groundwater management

Over the last half century technological & infrastructural advancements in the form of bore wells, pumping technology and rural electrification, has enabled farmers in the dryland regions of Maharashtra to access and extract groundwater at unprecedented levels, enabling the intensification and extension of cultivation. However, high levels of abstraction accompanied by recurrent droughts have led dramatic declines in groundwater levels. Further the socio-legal paradigm that governs groundwater resources, privileges individual users while ignoring the common pool characteristics of groundwater and aquifers.

Do we understand the importance of our underground reservoirs?

Groundwater is an integral part of the hydrogeological cycle and is an important natural resource of great social and economic significance. Today, groundwater resources across the country are under great stress: pollution , over-extraction, increasing stress due to population growth, emerging equity issues and added climate change. In much of Maharashtra, this precious natural resource occurs in weathered and fractured formations of the unsaturated zone. The hydrogeology of Deccan basalt is quite complex. This poses a challenge in identifying suitable groundwater bearing zones and location of recharge sites. Competition for this scarce resource has meant that farmers are drilling more wells of greater depth, leading to a greater disruption in the underground natural hydrological flow. Responding to this challenge requires a two- pronged approach. First, it is important to generate scientific and reliable knowledge that helps stakeholders to access and understand their underground reservoirs (aquifers). Second, an appropriate institutional setup must be put in place to ensure that this knowledge is operationalised in a sustainable and equitable manner. In this blog, we look at some of the work that we’ve been doing on the first front.

A nudge in the right direction: Using agro-advisories to encourage sustainable agriculture

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

JALSEVAKS: Demystifying groundwater management through community engagement

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.