Watershed Development


Our work has broken with conventional wisdom by recognizing that watershed development is not just about harvesting rainwater; it is also about sharing it equitably and managing it collectively. Whenever our dams are built, written agreements are forged about water sharing, hours of pumping, sequence of irrigation, cropping patterns and watering intensities. Our emphasis on equity and transparency has often met with severe resistance from vested interests. Our response has been non-violent, collective satyagraha, always aimed at building common ground with those opposed to us.

 Participatory Groundwater Management

Since 2001, there has been a significant increase in the number of borewells which tap groundwater – the principal source of drinking water and irrigation in our area. Since these villages are located on a hard rock terrain where the occurrence of groundwater is highly unpredictable, there is the danger of both over-exploitation of groundwater as well as well failures. Though the local village community intends to invest in excavating new wells or deepening existing wells, they also fear that this may result in declining water yields from existing wells. To regulate groundwater extraction and prevent over-exploitation, demand-side management of groundwater is needed. For effective demand management among users, we must have an understanding of the groundwater systems of the region. The Aquifer Management approach seeks to map and define boundaries of the region’s aquifers, the physical framework in which groundwater is stored and transmitted. The highly variable availability of groundwater in our area requires careful consideration of such complexities in the management system.

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Integrated Watershed Management Programme (IWMP) is a major initiative taken by the Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India for water conservation and sustenance of eco-system balance. SPS has been identified as a partner NGO by the state government to implement IWMP projects. At present, SPS is implementing 2 projects in Dewas district and 1 project in West Nimar district under IWMP. SPS has been identified as the partner in the Cluster Facilitation Team (CFT) programme in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, under which SPS will support Gram Panchayats for planning and implementation of watershed management plans under MGNREGA. SPS is also entering into a new water partnership with Hindustan Unilever Foundation (HUF) for scaling up its water conservation and policy advocacy activities.