Watershed Management

Society and Polity 2010 Watershed Management – A Hope for Sustainable Development Table of Contents Watershed2 Integrated Watershed Management2 Categorization of Watersheds2 Need for Watershed Management:3 Characteristics of Watershed Management:3 Successful case of Watershed management in Maharashtra3 Approaches/methods used for people’s participation4 Persuasion4 Gandhian Approach4 Creation of a common platform4 Selfless leadership5 Identification of the most pressing common problem5 Achievements at Ralegan Siddhi5 ————————————————-
Watershed Management: A Hope for Sustainable Development Watershed A Watershed is defined as a topographically delineated geographical area in which the entire run-off tends to converge, through the existing drainage system, to the common outlet of the area for subsequent disposal. In other words, a watershed is an independent drainage unit. Integrated Watershed Management It is the process of creating and implementing plans, programs, and projects to sustain and enhance watershed functions that affect the plant, animal, and human communities within a watershed boundary Categorization of Watersheds
Watersheds are categorized on the basis of the following criteria: * Based on Size: Based on size, the watersheds can be classified into micro, mini and large watersheds. The watersheds with area less than 500 ha are called as micro watersheds. The watersheds with area more than 500 ha but less than 2000 ha are called as mini watersheds. The watersheds with area more than 2000 ha are called as large watersheds. * Based on Drainage: Based on drainage, watersheds can be classified into drains and streams. Drains refer to the smaller water channels whereas streams refer to the larger water channels. Based on Shape: Based on shape, watersheds can be classified into two types namely fan-shaped and fern-shaped. Fan shaped watersheds are those which are circular or nearly circular in shape. Fern shaped watersheds are those which are elongated in shape. * Based on Other Criteria: Watersheds can also be classified according to other factors viz. altitude (high watersheds and flat watersheds), moisture content (arid watersheds and wet watersheds), type of soil (black-soil watersheds and red-soil watersheds), etc. Need for Watershed Management:

Watersheds are an asset and therefore they need to be managed properly so that we are able to utilize them in the years to come. They act as a source of water for the people living in and around watershed areas. They help in maintaining the nutrients of the soil, thereby supporting the agriculture sector to give a sustained yield. They also act as a good source of irrigation for the fields throughout the year. Since they support vegetation, they also help in reducing soil erosion as the roots of the vegetation hold together the top layer of the fertile soil.
They also help in the development of the forests as they act as good source of water for the forest flora and fauna. Objectives: * Water has multiples uses and must be managed in an integrated way. * Water should be managed at the lowest appropriate level. * Water allocation should take account of the interests of all who are affected. * Water should be recognised and treated as an economic good. Strategies: * A long term, viable sustainable future for basin stake holders. * Equitable access to water resources for water users. The application of principles of demand management for efficient utilisation. * Prevention of further environmental degradation (short term) and the restoration of degraded resources (long term). Characteristics of Watershed Management: * Allowing an adequate supply of water that is sustainable over many years. * Maintains water quality at level that meets government standards and other social water quality objectives. * Allows sustainable economic development over the short and long term. Successful case of Watershed management in Maharashtra Development fundamentally refers to human beings.
It should be a human experience to meet people’s physical, mental and emotional aspirations and potentials, not just in economic terms but should also lead to a sense of self-sufficiency and fulfilment. Ralegan Siddhi, often termed as an oasis of greenery surrounded by dry and bare hilly tracts is a unique example of transformation from poverty to plenty and a living model of people’s participation in natural resource management in a watershed. Ralegan Siddhi is a small village with an area of 982 ha in Parner county (taluka) of Ahmadnagar district, Maharashtra, India.
It is a drought-prone and resource poor area with annual rainfall ranging between 50-700 mm and temperature varying between 28°C and 44°C. The village is surrounded by small hillocks on the northeast and southern sides. The land is undulating and slopes vary from 3-15%. The 1991 Census enumerated a population of 1,982 living in 310 households (presently estimated to be around 325). The sex-ratio being 902 females per 1,000 males (1,029 in 1971; 1,013 in 1981). The continued decrease in the ratio is explained as the return of male folk to the village with improvement in the socio-economic conditions of the village.
Backward classes (scheduled castes and scheduled tribes) constitute only 14. 23% of the total population. Marathas of Khatri caste out-number other castes and constitute nearly two-third of the families. Among others are the backward castes including Mhar, Chamar, Bharhadi, Pardi, Sutar, Barber, Fishermen, Matang etc. By 1975, prior to intervention by Mr. Anna Hazare, the village had become quite notorious with all sorts of social evils, moral down fall and with badly shattered economic conditions. In general, the village presented the profile of a poverty-stricken and debt-ridden society.
Scarcity of water was key to distress which limited the prospects of agriculture. The water table was below 20 m, most of the wells used to dry up during summer and the drinking water had to be fetched from the neighbouring villages. The high rate of surface run off, due to high degree of slope and lack of vegetative cover had washed away the top fertile layer of the soils. Barely 20 ha of the village area was under irrigation. As a consequence the agricultural production was too meagre to support and sustain the livelihoods of the people particularly the resource poor farmers.
Not even 30% of the food grain requirements could be met from rain-fed mono-cropping practised in the village. Approaches/methods used for people’s participation The approaches/methods used by him for the participation of farmers in natural resource management works are highlighted below. Persuasion First of all, Anna went through a careful envisioning of the deteriorating situation in village life and decided to initiate through religion-moral undercurrent by persuading the people for reconstruction of Sant Yadava Baba temple.
But he failed to impress and influence the people at large, primarily because the people were too busy with their own business and the worldly affairs. Gandhian Approach The second step was to set up examples by self-practising rather than mere preaching as Mahatma Gandhi used to do. Initially it went on unnoticed but in due course it gathered momentum. Particularly, he tried to organize the youths of the village under ‘Tarun Mandal’ (youth organization). Besides, participation from all the sections of society was ensured and encouraged.
Creation of a common platform Keeping all the differences and disparities aside, a common platform and meeting ground was created in the form of Sant Yadav Baba’s temple. People started sitting in groups during evenings and discussing about the affairs of the village and common concern. Thus, the process of friendship, cooperation and communication started. Selfless leadership Anna himself invested all the money he had (Rs. 20,000) for purchasing building materials for the temple before asking others to contribute. Identification of the most pressing common problem
The main reason of disintegration, division and distress of the village society was the lack of a sound livelihood support system. The economy of the village was agrarian and shortage of water for irrigation was the major constraint to its development. Thus, assured availability of water was collectively identified as the top priority in a meeting of villagers. Achievements at Ralegan Siddhi Successful abolition of social evils like alcoholism, dowry, corruption and the caste system. These changes paved the way for positive steps to development.
Regeneration of watershed resources through people’s participation, a living example of watershed development and management. Development of agriculture and allied sectors by better farming practices and cropping patterns, judicious use of water by introducing drip irrigation system, yield enhancement etc. as a result the village where nearly three-fourth population was below poverty line, has become self sufficient and is surplus in food grains, today. Conclusion * Improving agricultural productivity. * Improving vegetative covers. * Increasing fodder & food availability. Reducing soil erosion & nutrient loss. * Improve water availability of surface & groundwater. * Enhancing quality of life among local communities.
The case study shows the success of Gandhian approach to people’s participation in watershed management. Since 1975, this has resulted into participation of all the 325 village families, renovation of a temple, stopping illicit liquor distillation, water harvesting in 4 small watersheds, construction of many check dams, plantation of five hundred thousand forest trees, controlled grazing, raising of ground water level rom 20 m depth to 6. 5 m, sale of onions worth Rs. 80 million in 1995 alone (exchange rate in June 1995 1 US$ = Rs. 31. 3), solar street lights, village toilets, biogas, organic farming, introduction of livestock, a full high school, institutionalization of decision making at village assembly level, local voluntary organizational capacity building, acceptance and application of voluntary code of conduct, formation of different action committees, etc. References