Digital tool to monitor groundwater

Women use an open source groundwater monitoring tool that enables collection of water level data of wells and its collation on a web platform for easy access by all. (Image: FES)
Women use an open source groundwater monitoring tool that enables collection of water level data of wells and its collation on a web platform for easy access by all. (Image: FES)

According to a 2006 report by the Inter-Agency Task Force, titled ‘Gender, Water and Sanitation’, women’s participation in water governance projects is important for their success. Given the gendered division of labour in our society, it is not hard to see why. Women are tasked with the management of water for their households and, thus, know where to fetch the water from, at what time of the day, how to ration it for various chores, and how to store it for the dry days.

Hence, it is heartening that women from the Bhilwara and Pratapgarh districts of Rajasthan are participating in monitoring the water levels in their wells.

They have started using the Groundwater Monitoring Tool (GMT), a mobile application to record the well water levels before and after the monsoons. The data, which can be collected on mobile phones or tablets, is fed into a server via the app to obtain a comparative analysis of water levels – from its availability to its quality.

Up until now, the Community Resource Persons (CRPs) in the project area of Foundation for Ecological Security (FES), a non-profit organisation have mostly been men. However, its staff and cadre’s year-long efforts to mobilize women to participate in the water monitoring exercise have received a positive response, especially during the COVID-19 lockdown.

To date, close to 45 women in these districts have taken to well water monitoring in and around their villages, of which at least 15 are actively engaged in this activity. Gayatri Sharma, one of the CRPs from Baori Village of Jahazpur Block in Bhilwara District, has already recorded the water levels of 50 wells.

Collecting and uploading data using the tool is one part of their effort. They also create awareness in their communities about the various aspects of water governance, such as sharing responsibility for the upkeep of local water bodies to conserve water and improve its quality, and to plan a water budget for cropping seasons.

This is a critical, much-needed intervention in Rajasthan, where factors like rapid industrialization, rampant use of chemical fertilizers, and the lack of waste management have deteriorated the quality of water.

FES Regional Team Leader Shantanu Sinha says the involvement of women in water monitoring is a small but significant step. “Water is a very big component of rural women’s life. They know the ins-and-outs of water management, and can make quite a difference to the water governance initiatives.”

FES has trained these women to spread water literacy in their communities and is now working to engage women from other blocks in Rajasthan to undertake the same in their villages. By recording groundwater levels and coupling it with their traditional knowledge of water management, women can lead the efforts to strengthen resilience during drought-like situations in a world where water is fast becoming scarce and polluted.

To learn more about the tool and download it, please visit https://www.indiaobservatory.org.in/tool/gmt 

 

Foundation for Ecological Security (FES) is a registered non-profit organisation based in Anand (Gujarat) working towards the ecological restoration and conservation of land and water resources in ecologically fragile, degraded and marginalised regions of the country, through concentrated and collective efforts of village communities.