Water Resource Management and Restoration
Self Help Group of Women for Sustainable Water Resource Management and Restoration of Water Resources
Centre for Social Research, in collaboration with Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India Limited, piloted a project to enhance women’s leadership capacity in water conservation in the Alwar region of Rajasthan. Rajasthan falls within areas of greatest climate sensitivity, maximum vulnerability, and lowest adaptive capacity with regard to climate change. Within which, Alwar is a highly water-stressed region, with a lack of surface water sources, perennial rivers, and adept rainwater harvesting systems to meet its rising demands for usable water.
The six month pilot project targeted three hamlets in Kali-Khol village, KaliKhol, RundhKaliKhol or Bera, and Bandha-ka-bas, located in Bakhtpura Gram Panchayat of Umren Development Block. The program trained 40 women members of existing SHG’s in gender inequalities, and water conservation strategies – reinforcing traditional methods alongside newer technologies. SHGs are local intermediaries formed to focus on the poor for poverty reduction and women’s empowerment. By incorporating the SHG agenda within the larger scheme of water crises it is envisioned that women’s participation in SHG’s will improve along with their increased capacities to mainstream water conservation strategies at the community level.
The objectives of this program are as follows:
- Form Self Help Group (SHG) of 20 women, and train them with respect to linkages between gender, water, and climate change.
- Install/ repair water conservation and environmental resources as identified in the initial stages of the program by the SHG women.
- The water structure restoration in these areas will not only lead to socio-economic benefits, but also prevent soil erosion, check water flow velocity, increase ground water level, as well as contribute to the regeneration of flora and fauna.
- SHG women trained under this project will be able to benefit from the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA).
CSR in collaboration with a local partner KrishiAvamParisthitikiVikasSansthan (KRAPAVIS), and a technical expert conducted several events and trainings with the SHG women, beginning with a three day basic capacity building training which emphasized the linkages between women, water, and climate change. This training formed the basis for advanced training’s, with the same SHG members, who it is envisioned will go on to become a key group of change makers in their village. The advanced technical training’s, were designed with the intention of supporting the existing traditional knowledge of the SHG women on water conservation in such a way that when the medhbandh’s and other water conservation structures in the villages are built/refurbished, the women can actively contribute to their upkeep and usage.
Ground-breaking: Gender, Water, Climate Change Project commences in Alwar
The impacts of climate change are most dramatically felt through changes in water – changes that will severely affect humans, society, and the environment (IPCC 2013, 2014). A policy brief prepared by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) notes that more than 90 percent of climate manifestations (droughts, floods, hurricanes etc) occur through water. The brief goes on to note that women are central to the collection and safeguarding of water, and are responsible for more than 70 percent of water chores and management worldwide. Women are therefore integral to laying the foundations of a resilient society.
CSR is currently working with women in Alwar, Rajasthan with self-help groups (SHG’s) of women in Kali-Khol village to increase their understanding of water conservation methods, and sustainable water management systems, thereby increasing women’s leadership capacity in water conservation. On the 23rd of April, the CSR team conducted a site visit to Alwar. We met with the women, and our local partner KRAPAVIS and our technical expert. We wanted to assess the project progress, and also hear from the women what their thoughts were on the project as it’s unfurling for them.
Clearing of the site by tractors for the construction of medhbandhi’s (farm bunds) began, with women overseeing the progress, and helping to clear away some of the larger debris. Bureaucratic blockages from the forest department continue to persist, hindering the proposed construction of a johad (ponds) in Kalikhol. The women involved in the project have mobilised, and along with their families have made continuous efforts to speak with forest officials and vouch for the benefits of the project, and allay any concerns that the officials might have. Despite very little headway being made,the women have demonstrated commitment towards ensuring the project is implemented in a way that would be most beneficial to them.
Overall the visit was positive, as women from the SHG’s expressed enthusiasm for the project, and their involvement going forward. Our technical expert was optimistic about the strategy, and the manner in which the project was taking shape, and Mr. Aman Singh (founder, KRAPAVIS) expressed that medhbandhi activities would be a great asset to the community. A visit by the CSR team for the following week has been planned, on the day on which the women plan to do a small prayer ceremony to bless the project.