Community-ecosystem approach for adaptive watershed management in drought-prone tribal areas of West Bengal

2012 Finalist

The South Asian Forum for Environment [SAFE] works towards the sustainable development of natural resources for poverty alleviation as a social catalyst through a community-based participatory programme and global partnership.

More information about the organisation

SAFE is working towards water resource management and community water governance in South Asia. It started its water harvesting projects in Bhutan in 2005, and promotes rainwater harvesting and prudent use of water resources, including conservation of water bodies and wetlands, in Eastern India and Bangladesh.

Goal

1. Community led micro-watershed development, water resource recovery and plantation for hamlet forestry 2. Establishment of bio-rights of commons through community water governance, participatory & adaptive watershed management 3. Incorporating Payment for Environmental Services [PES] to create a separate dispensation within mainstream public investment, as an incentive to support rain-fed agriculture 4. Social empowerment through capacity building and financial inclusion of farmers

Project description

Water resource management and community water governance becomes a panacea for saving the rain-fed agrarian economy in India. This project delivers an integrated community/ecosystem approach for adaptive watershed management and improved livelihood in drought-prone tribal areas of Purulia. The project aims to deliver a new economic paradigm for community-based natural resource management towards sustainable development. This includes community led micro-watershed development, water resource recovery and plantation for hamlet forestry, incorporating Payment for Environmental Services [PES] to create a separate dispensation within mainstream public investment as an incentive to support rain-fed agriculture and social empowerment through capacity building and financial inclusion of farmers.

Country / Region

India, West Bengal, tribal areas of Purulia

Information about local context

In 2010, 11 districts of West Bengal were declared drought-hit. Purulia was the worst hit, with agricultural production falling to 27%. With 2% cultivation, 280,000 hectares of agricultural land is lying vacant, facing a drought. In Purulia, 70% of families are dependent on paddy; the dry spell has brought doom for farmers.

Participation of the communities

Local community in partnership is developing participatory watershed management plans, prioritising problems, sequencing of execution system and developing impact assessment tools. The primary feedbacks from the locals are the major inputs for adaptive management.

Long term viability

Community governance of natural resources is the first guarantor of viability. Assured revenue returns from sustainable agriculture and alternative livelihood options would depend on proper management of the watershed functions, which by default would be shared in their entirety by the stakeholders. The advantage of using emission neutral technology and practices would also sustain the effort in the long run.

Status of project November 2011

The project is at the initiation stage, where communities are inducted with the concept and programme structure. Awareness building on green water harvest, community water governance and low water intensive agro farming practices have been done. The community have formed working groups to translate the concept.

Submitted by: 
South Asian Forum for Environment
Project period: 
2012-2013
Project legal form: 
Association
Region: 
India
Last update: 
2011
Award year: 
2012

South Asian Forum for Environment
B 43 Survey Park
700075 Kolkata
India
www.safeinch.org
Mr. Dipayan Dey
safeinch@gmail.com