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UKAID Department for International Development (R4D) 2001

Community management of groundwater resources in rural India

Community Management Groundwater

UKAID Department for International Development (R4D)

Titre : Community management of groundwater resources in rural India

Projet de recherche pour le Développement : R8058

DFID Programme : Water

Organismes de mise en œuvre
Joint Financiers : Department of Drinking Water Supplies, New Delhi ; National Geophysical Research Institute, India ; United Nations Children’s Fund, New Delhi (UNICEF)
Lead Institutes : British Geological Survey (BGS) ; Hydrogeology Research Group, British Geological Survey
Managing Institutes : British Geological Survey (BGS) ; Hydrogeology Research Group, British Geological Survey
Collaborating Institutes : Advanced Centre for Water Resources Development and Management (India) ; Department of Drinking Water Supplies, New Delhi ; Institute of Social and Environmental Transition - Nepal (ISET-Nepal) ; National Geophysical Research Institute, India ; Overseas Development Institute (ODI) ; United Nations Children’s Fund, New Delhi (UNICEF)

Durée : 01-10-2001 / 30-03-2004

Objectifs
To strengthen rural livelihoods through better institutional and operational solutions for local management of groundwater In rural India, groundwater provides approximately 85% of the water used for domestic purposes, and more than 50% of that used for irrigation. These statistics, however, understate the critical role groundwater plays in supporting rural livelihoods, since access to groundwater reduces agricultural risk, encourages investment, and helps meet the basic needs of public health, poverty alleviation and economic development. Against this background, depletion of groundwater resources is emerging as a major concern, with the recent drought in the west and north-west highlighting entrenched problems associated with over-abstraction. In the hard-rock areas, where the volume of water stored in rocks is low, over-abstraction means that wells can fail earlier in the dry season. This situation disproportionately affects poorer households - the landless and asset poor farmers for example - where they are unable to construct deep boreholes to ’chase’ the water table down. The direct cost of groundwater over-abstraction to the end of the 1980s has been estimated at US$300 million, almost certainly an underestimate (World Bank figures). Addressing the problem of groundwater over-abstraction in India is complex. Conventional wisdom suggests that a mix of regulatory (eg : licensing) and market (eg water and energy pricing) reforms are required to control groundwater use. However, implementing such reforms is problematic, as monitoring (and controlling) the activities of millions of individual well owners, and reducing subsidies, is very difficult. Against this background, the development of user-group based institutions for groundwater management, for the benefit of those most affected by failing groundwater supplies, is an attractive idea. The viability of this approach has not been tested for groundwater, though common property management of other resources (eg : grazing ; forestry) has been actively promoted in recent years, and community-based solutions to other problems (eg : pump financing and maintenance) are well rehearsed. A preliminary conclusion is that user-based groundwater management schemes will only be sustainable if certain hydrogeological, institutional and socio-economic conditions are met, and that schemes will require some external input to set up (eg : with resource assessment and monitoring) and sustain (eg : resolution of disputes by some external, and independent, authority). This project aims to identify these conditions, and provide guidance on how obstacles can be overcome. It will draw on experience of community-based schemes for supply development, but will identify further needs for extending the user-group approach into groundwater management. Participatory approaches to resource management are identified in the KaR strategy as being important. Moreover, innovative approaches to poverty alleviation, which put people rather than resources or policy instruments at centre stage, fit well with the sustainable livelihoods approach DFID is encouraging. Demand for the work has been articulated by NGO, government and donor agencies in India, concerned that failing groundwater supplies are undermining livelihoods of the rural poor. Both the National Water Policy for India, and the recent Cochin Declaration on implementing rural water supply policy reforms (agreed by 14 states and many NGOs and donors), endorses the principle of decentralisation, community management of local schemes and water demand management.

Total Cost to DFID : £392,720

Présentation : UKAID

Page publiée le 26 septembre 2015, mise à jour le 29 octobre 2017