November 2, 2015
In 2015, we initiated two integrated watershed development projects in the drought prone regions of Beed (Bavi, Jamb and Zapiwadi villages) and Osmanabad (Dukkarwadi, Paduli and Sukata villages) in Maharashtra.
Watershed development involves restructuring of a valley to arrest or slow down rainfall and allow it to percolate into the soil. This helps in increasing the water table and availability of water for irrigation and domestic purposes. In regions dependent on agriculture, resultant higher water table ensures year-round cropping.
The projects cover over 6,000 ha of land and will help restore the ecological balance of the region. The population in these villages is largely from marginalized communities and will improve the livelihoods for over 5000 farmer households. It will also directly impact approximately 27,500 people in Maharashtra.
We expect to restore close to 6 million kl of water per annum through these projects, which would be made available for agriculture requirements of the region and help to mitigate the impact of drought in future years. In addition, the project ensures adoption of sustainable farming practices by local farmers further contributing to water and soil regeneration.
The process of setting up a watershed management project is done through a participatory manner through the formation of a Village Watershed Committee. The committee is required to represent all sections of the community with at least 30% participation by women. The committee members are also provided access to finance from formal financial sources.
The rising water table would result in improved agricultural productivity, which in turn will help generate local employment, reduce migration and increase per capita income. Off-farm activities such as dairy and poultry farming will also be positively impacted. A large number of women participate in watershed development and this will help in the formation of credit-linked women SHGs. Secondary impact such as, improvement in education, health and housing will enable holistic development of the region.
Further, we run a number of farmer training and animal husbandry programmes as part of our skill building efforts. Going ahead, we will integrate these training programmes in the watershed project implementation.
We have partnered with the National Bank for Agriculture & Rural Development (NABARD) for a 4-year period to ensure Maharashtra’s most drought prone agricultural belt becomes a water sufficient region. With NABARD we are jointly partnering with local NGOs that are carrying out the on-ground work in the villages.