PARTICIPATORY WATER MANAGEMENT
With the support of the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, Manavodaya undertook a participatory analysis of water management practices at village level through local facilitators trained for the purpose. This helped in bringing out some very revealing information :
Many families still used unsafe well water for drinking . Even when the source of water was hand pump, the practices for storage and use of water in many families rendered the water unsafe for drinking.
Groundwater levels in the region were going down at an alarming rate of 8 to 10 feet in 5 years. Several borings had dried up as a result. It was observed that most farmers had removed the bunds around their fields to get more space for cultivation. This had terrible consequences for groundwater management as all the rain water flowed down to the river carrying with it the useful top soil as well.
Funds for employment generation under government sponsored MNREGA scheme were being used for construction of local dams in an unscientific manner without detailed surveys and water flow assessments in farmer’s fields. A participatory assessment done with the help of local farmers showed that several small check dams were needed to stop the flow of water from the upper ridges to the rivulet nearby.
An awareness campaign was carried out for making proper field bunds that allow rain water to seep down for recharging the ground water. An Eco literacy camp was held with top officials of the area to highlight the need for a participatory approach and scientific rigor in the construction of check dams for water conservation.
URGENT POLICY MEASURES NEEDED
There is an urgent need to promote best practices in water management in agriculture as well as in use practices in homes. Urgent policy measures are needed to promote participatory approaches and scientific rigour to tackle the widespread problem of depleting groundwater before it is too late.