Water shortages and its poor quality affect hundreds of districts in India. Our agriculture suffers from vagaries of water supply, seriously affecting the food and nutrition security of the country as well as livelihoods of millions of small farmers. The annual natural water cycle provides us with limited fresh water. On the other hand, the increased demand for water due to modern lifestyle and industry have led us to over-use surface water and over-extract groundwater. This has lowered water levels and increased salinity in groundwater. Pollution, both human and industrial, add to the water problems. The living ecosystem around us also requires water and seriously affected by water problems.
Hence, the governance and practices for water at various levels should ensure: (i) water conservation, (ii) optimized usage, (iii) recycling and reuse of water.
The above requires competencies and skills to be created at multiple levels, with particularly strong capacity at grass root levels.
For effective groundwater conservation and management, the beneficiary community’s involvement and participation plays a key role in the project. Our project partner, ACT’s experience of more than 15 years in Kachchh district has provided evidence that an intensive training of community members as para-geohydrologists, also known as ‘bhujal jankar’ benefits the project as well as the lives of the trainees. They acquire skills of data monitoring, data analysis, resource mapping, community mobilisation and preparing and implementing their village’s water security plans. They earn respect and credibility within their village community through the knowledge and skills acquired; and several livelihood opportunities open up for them. ‘Parab’ which is a private enterprise set up by trained bhujal jankars is a product of skill and capacity building programs. Through this, bhujal jankars now independently collect data, create water security plans and solve water issues.
Role of Online Courses / Programs in blended mode
To scale up above success, across hundreds of districts of India, a blended online / face-to-face model of training is being designed. This will enable sharing of expertise, learning resources, together with local learning support, to thousands of learners. The learners will be further able to use the online learning resources to familiarize other citizens, farmers, women etc., to make them adopt suitable practices. The learners will also be able to continue their learning continuously.
Rajadev Gadhavi – “Being a Krushak Mitra, I was working on agriculture related activities only, now having knowledge of Groundwater, will help not only in Moti Khakhar but also serve other villages to manage their groundwater”.
Ramesh Gor – “I will help village panchayat to form a water committee and shall promote water conservation and groundwater recharge activities as well as water efficient crops in farming”.
Hirbai Gadhavi – “will continue to promote Kitchen Garden and Vermicompost activities and will help women’s groups to set up economic activities to earn for their family”.
Sarad Nakar – “My dream is to provide GW service through Water resource Mapping to farmers of K-MARC Cluster Villages. It’s a proud moment for me to be known as Bhujal Jankar as this terms gave me respect and recognition from village people that we are Pani testing vala! (people conducting water quality Analysis)”
Riyaz Sumara – “I shall help village panchayat to form a Water Committee to manage and regulate use of groundwater”
Shravan Bhati – “I would like to support farmers and village panchayats/ water committee to work on water budgeting and to adopt water efficient farming practice’’
Devaraj Gadhavi – “I will continue to promote Crop water Budgeting Activity through Water meter and Also Promote Water Saving Crop Practices
Haresh Kerai – “I will help farmers to understand availability of groundwater and adopt water saving techniques in farming”.