Author – Dr. Sazina Bhimani, Geohydrologist, Founder and Director of Geo Science Services, Bhuj-Kutch
Water is an integral part of human life linked with basic needs for drinking and livelihood. Water is chemically formed as H2O but it has many social forms when it linked with different communities and different purposes. Earlier, water demand was met only in terms of its availability through local sources. Community used to set up social norms and adopt water utilization as per the quantity and quality of local sources. In the current times, the terms have been changed. Water demand is evaluated as bias and fashion- like public source, private source, source type, quantity, quality and availability. While people are aware about the importance of water, particularly their needs in terms of quantity and quality, but are not sensitized to manage the resource. The mindset is to get adequate and safe drinking water that should be assured and supplied by the relevant authority. On other hand, when water connects with their livelihoods such as agriculture and animal husbandry, people value it more. Richness of water resource directly affect the economic return from their livelihood. However, quantum of drinking and domestic water is less compared to current demand and we are not able to manage it across the regions.
Looking at social aspects, people have various community division based on religion and livelihood. In rural areas, water distribution and ownership varies from rich/higher caste to poor/lower caste categories. The social norms still exist in some parts but the term has been changed as one more layer has been added that is owning rich and potential water resources. Water in association with economy creates a different social division within and among the community. Water also become a political agenda, from local to national level.
Right from beginning, water always been a political and administrative agenda. Water is considered as a competitive atmosphere without looking at potential and need for any specific region. All these factors have degraded the water resources of the region. Kachhchh region is the example that shows water history from the rich Dholavira heritage to the current and advances water sources. Even the water demand norms based water requirement couldn’t be matched with local source that has changed the user’s mindset. This has led a trend from sustainability to dependency, from decentralized to centralized system and from local to external source. Urbanization and industrialization add more pressure on overall water budget.
All these factors show that there is a big gap between requirement and potential of the source. The natural cycle of water has been totally missed out by users and suppliers. Human beings are one of the users of water cycle along with other systems. Water cycle of the region defines its potential and availability, that should be the base for water management. Sound water management can be achieved with scientific and participatory approach.
The participatory approach integrates social, scientific and management aspects that leads towards the water sustainability. Considering participatory approach, a project model can be designed for different types of area and users with following common set of parameters:
- Geo-hydrological study to understand the natural potential and scope of development
- Water demand and water budgeting
- Supply management through integration of surface and groundwater development
- Demand management from individual unit to collective unit
- Resource monitoring and evaluation
- Development of decision making tools
- Demonstration and scale up
Further to achieve following efforts need to be done at different level such as social aspects, scientific aspects and management aspects.
- Social aspects:
- Community/users sensitization that help to change mindset
- Sensitization of the development and management authorities at all the level
- Utilization of traditional knowledge in resource development plan
- Decision makers knowledge strengthening for monitoring and groundwater recharge techniques
- Community involvement throughout all the social and economic division with equity
- Scientific aspects:
- Accounts of surface and groundwater resource
- Problem and potential mapping
- Water budgeting
- Demand and supply management plan
- Creation of evidences of participatory management using technological tools
- Management aspects:
- Decision making system set up
- Set up usage norms and guideline
- Resource monitoring
- Mainstreaming and scale up
- Learning, review and upgradation
Rainfall is the main source of water that being received every year. When rainwater touches the earth surface, it gets related with administrative boundaries like village, district, state. From this point, water division starts naturally, socially and administratively. Each region receives different amount of rainfall and have different set of technique to harvest it. In every situation, water budget specific management can lead towards the sustainability excluding all the social, administrative and political division. Water should be evaluated and developed as per the demand and potential supply only.