Water is the most precious natural resource and a universal asset, it provides the life support system for human beings, vegetation, plants and animals, this universal asset has been being depleted /degraded enormously due to population pressure, creation of infrastructure and climate change. Bundelkhand (BKD) is known as a drought-prone region facing constant water stress which has an impact on the livelihood of the people. Water scarcity is common at most times of the year and reaches its peak in the summer months of April to June. The region faces a water shortage because of its unique granite topography, which does not allow rainwater to seep in and recharge the groundwater table (Naqvi, 2020).
Most of the farmers in the region practice traditional methods of farming and are unaware of new techniques of crop production as well as crop management which results the low crop productivity on the farmers field. 70% of water is used for agriculture, and about 12 to 15% for industrial and personal consumption in Bundelkhand (Naqvi, 2020).
People in Bundelkhand region mainly in Budpura village of Bundelkhand region faces difficulties to meet the basic needs of water. The main water related problems are Water scarcity (unavailability of water throughout the year and severe in summers) which has led to situations where women have to walk long distances and devote a substantial amount of time and energy for procuring water for the household purposes. Scarcity of water also had adverse impact on health as sanitation practices, including open defecation and poor personal hygiene is creating serious health hazards for the population.
Development Alternatives in support with NABARD has initiated the project on Watershed development for livelihood security in the Pura and Budpura villages of Jhansi District to promote sustainable watershed management for ensuring the protection and enhancement of the natural resource base. The initiative is designed to enhance water security by utilizing the opportunities offered by the topography and hydro-geological regime and thereby to promote sustainable livelihoods, guided by the needs of the communities.
The main objectives of watershed development is to conserve Soil and water conservation with the constructions of structures like check-dams, gully plugs, farm bunds, gabion structures and plantations and promotion of efficient irrigation systems promoting water storage and aquifer recharge.
Mr. Raju Pal resident of Budpura village added that the establishment of water and soil conversation structures with a storage capacity has led to an increase in groundwater levels leading to water availability for domestic, irrigation purposes and livestock.
There has also been increasing in land area under Rabi cultivation due to increased irrigation sources and an increase in area under Kharif cultivation due to improved water management which resulted in the greening of more than 500 Ha of Watershed, which included tree plantation in 500 Ha of community land and 300 Ha of land forest land, and promotion of fodder and vegetable cultivation in 100 ha of non-productive land in 4 villages (Pura, Budpura, Khajaraha Khurd and Bujurg) located within the watershed area of BKD area. On the annual basis, there has been 30% enhancement in the average income of farming households due to improved water availability and diversification of agriculture.
–Author: Sanyukta Kumari from DEVALT –