The Centre for Social Research India launched a five year project on Water Conservation in rural Rajasthan (specifically in Jaipur and Abu Road) in partnership with the Hanns Seidel Foundation, commencing in 2012. The project aimed to equip and empower Elected Women Representatives (EWRs) and to-be EWRs to take on leadership roles in water management and conservation within their communities.
- To increase understanding of the connection between water issues and gender inequality;
- To increase knowledge amongst EWRs of tools and schemes for water conservation and water management; and
- To increase the capacity of EWRs to lead water conservation initiatives at village level.
The project spanned across 4 phases and 6 years, where the EWRs were trained in technical skills to, in turn, train members of their community on processes of water conservation and management. These phases included a needs assessment survey giving us an insight into the issues that persisted in the areas in focus; developing of training modules; training of trainers, where the EWRs were trained so as to empower them with leadership skills; and hand-holding sessions, where the EWRs conducted the trainings and sessions for their communities on the importance of water conservation. Upon effective implementation, a series of workshops were held in 2018 on topics ranging from Geohydrology to Watershed Management and Water Budgeting, in Abu Road, Rajasthan.
With the help of the above programmes and our collective efforts, we have taken a step forward towards introducing the idea of water conservation and management to the EWRs, and consequently their fellow community members. The Women are now taking on leadership roles in full affect, and embracing political involvement for the betterment of their communities.
The Centre of Social Research India is set to launch a project in collaboration with the RITES Foundation in 5 villages of Sanganer, Rajasthan. The idea which forms the basis of this project is that of women’s leadership and initiative in water conservation and climate action. The project aims to take an integrated approach to deal with issues of water conservation, and develop women’s capacity as natural leaders on water issues. With the help of this project, the women will both lead the development of critical water conservation resources within the communities, and ensure that community awareness and use of water conservation strategies expand. The main goal of the project is to enhance women’s skill and active leadership in local water conservation plans and infrastructure development and maintenance.
- To construct or refurbish water conservation infrastructure as identified during needs assessment in the focus area;
- To train 25 members of local women’s Self-Help Groups in basic water conservation principles, leader, planning, and technical knowledge to develop and maintain local water conservation infrastructure; and
- To hand-hold trainees to develop local water conservation plans and recommendations to be presented at Gram Sabha meetings and promote awareness generation among local communities.
By linking training with concrete local infrastructure projects, women will be able to develop practical knowledge and apply the content of training in ways that directly benefit their communities. These women will become local resources with leadership and planning skills, and have knowledge about technical aspects of water conservation, ensuring the activities continue following training and that the project has a sustainable impact.
This one year long project is ready to take off with the needs assessment already underway. Through this project, CSR aims to improve water conservational infrastructure in 5 villages, with direct awareness-generation among approximately 600 residents of these villages, about water conversation and climate action.
Every year, people on the river belt of Kosi are affected by floods and natural disasters that impact lives and livelihoods. The Kosi river belt is an area which is highly flood prone, susceptible to deforestation, and submergence of embankments. In collaboration with The Asia Foundation, we worked in Supaul and Saharsa district; Bihar and Sunsari and Saptari district; Nepal. Our focus was on improving the lives of communities, especially of vulnerable groups (particularly women) who are affected by yearly floods.
Through the medium of our project, we sought to build capacities of Elected Women Representatives (EWRs) on flood and disaster management, by implementing a training program for rural areas on the Kosi river belt.
- Build capacities of Active Women Leaders from the political groups of both the countries on influencing local Governance in right way of handling Trans-boundary issue with focus on pre-post flood related issues.
- Create a grassroots level women cadre of leaders to handle issues, as well as sharing it with extended villages.
- Generate Awareness among local women stakeholders about government schemes and policies related to trans-boundary water and disaster management.
- Built capacities of active women leaders through training on pre and post flood (disaster) management issues. In total, 194 local women leaders were trained. Hand-holdings in Bihar covered 2332 community members, and in Nepal, 2050 community members were included.
- Formulated discussions and sharing of existing knowledge between existing women groups working on flood management. Thereby, paving the way for creation of Women Disaster Committee (WDC) in absent districts.
- Generated Awareness among local women stakeholders on government schemes and policies. To this end, we involved government officials, civil society organisations, local practicioners, and NGOs.
Through this project, CSR aimed at creating space for women in a primarily male-dominated sphere. With the help of the 73rd Amendment and its provisions for women to take on decision making roles, the project focused on involving women in taking crucial decisions for community and municipality development. The project also empowered women to liaison with the government in order to claim schemes and policies. These women-led committees have set a great example for further trainings and capacity building of the community in the future, in both Bihar and Nepal.
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.