Developing an effective participatory groundwater monitoring program at village level

Issues in groundwater management and recharge have been dealt with in a series of booklets as a part of the MARVI project.
16 May 2020
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One of the Bhujal Jankaars measuring groundwater levels manually (Image: Basant Maheshwari)
One of the Bhujal Jankaars measuring groundwater levels manually (Image: Basant Maheshwari)

The ‘Managing Aquifer Recharge and Sustaining Groundwater Use through Village-level Intervention’ (MARVI) project is being undertaken since February 2012 with the overall aim to improve the security of irrigation water supplies and enhance livelihood opportunities for rural communities in India.

Specifically, MARVI's focus is to develop an effective participatory groundwater monitoring program at village level, assess the effectiveness of current rainwater harvesting and groundwater recharge structures and develop demand management strategies that will make the groundwater use sustainable.

The project funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) is being executed with a number of partners: Western Sydney University, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) Land and Water, International Water Management Institute (IWMI), Development Support Centre (DSC), Arid Communities and Technologies (ACT), Maharana Pratap University of Agriculture and Technology (MPUAT) and Vidya Bhawan Krishi Vigyan Kendra (VBKVK).

In the MARVI project, 'transdisciplinary research' approach is used involving researchers from different disciplines (irrigation, hydrology, hydrogeology, social science, economics, agronomy, soil science, rural development etc.). To manage groundwater, modelling and assessment tools are being developed so that they can be reliably used with easily available local information. The study areas of MARVI are hard rock aquifer areas - Meghraj watershed, Aravali district in Gujarat and Dharta watershed, Udaipur district in Rajasthan. Both districts provide a diversity of transdisciplinary issues in groundwater recharge and management.

As a part of the MARVI project, a number of books have been produced in English, Hindi and Gujarati.

MARVI – An innovative approach for village level groundwater management

The MARVI project is focused on developing a village level participatory approach, models and tools to assist in improving groundwater supplies and reducing its demand through the direct involvement of farmers and other affected stakeholders. A unique feature of MARVI is the use of scientific measurements by citizens through the engagement of Bhujal Jankaars , a Hindi word meaning ‘groundwater informed’ volunteers.

With appropriate training and capacity building, Bhujal Jankars monitor groundwater levels and quality, making sense from a village perspective of what is happening to village groundwater availability. Bhujal Jankaars convey this information to farmers and others in their own language.

This booklet provides summaries of key outputs from the MARVI project covering the aspects of Bhujal Jankaar approach, hydrogeology, agronomy and socio-economic analysis, MyWell app and the village groundwater cooperatives to move towards village level water security and improved livelihood improvement.

Editors: Basant Maheshwari and Anil Mehta

The booklet is available as flipbook and as PDF in English, Hindi and Gujarati

Our groundwater: A resource book for water literacy

This resource book deals with the issue of overexploitation of groundwater, a serious problem faced especially in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra. It has been written as a resource book for use by students and teachers with an objective to enhance not only their awareness about the seriousness of groundwater over-exploitation in India but also to empower the teaching community. The book offers students and teachers information that is vital for both demand and supply management.

While groundwater supplies can be enhanced by water harvesting and recharge, the water usage can be managed through enhancing the water use efficiency in agriculture (through modern methods of irrigation such as drip) and reducing the wastage of food and water. The book contains information on how much water is needed to produce different types of food crops. The book treats groundwater as a common resource that needs to be shared, carefully used and protected by all. Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), water pollution and water reuse aspects have been covered in brief in this book.

Authors: Rai Kookana, CSIRO Land and Water, University of Adelaide, Australia; Basant Maheshwari, Western Sydney University, Sydney, Australia; Peter Dillon, CSIRO Land and Water, Flinders University, Australia; Ramesh Purohit, Maharana Pratap University of Agricultural and Technology, Udaipur and Sachin Oza, Development Support Centre, Ahmedabad

The book is available as flipbook and as PDF in English, Hindi and Gujarati

Groundwater stories: Villagers share their voices

The technique used to develop the stories in this book is called PhotoVoice. This powerful technique enables ordinary people - usually with limited power due to poverty, low literacy levels, ethnicity, gender, culture or other circumstances to capture and share aspects of their environment, worldviews and experiences through photography. Farmers, school children and others in the study villages of the MARVI project shared their photos, through this book, to bring the realities of everyday water issues and challenges to the attention of the community and policy makers.

The photographs captured what surface and ground water meant to the villagers, in the present and future, what they valued most about water, and how they saw their own responsibilities for village water security.

The book is an example of how grassroots activities, such as storytelling, can be used to develop engagement, ownership and vision for local problems and solutions in rural development projects. The process of producing this book has indirectly helped villagers in the MARVI project to explore the problem and identify possible solutions for their groundwater situation.

It provides interesting perspectives and insights from ordinary villagers from Gujarat and Rajasthan about the complexity of over-exploitation of groundwater, water scarcity and impacts on livelihoods. It also hopes to identify what could be done to facilitate collective action at the community level to address complex groundwater resources management issues and challenges.

Authors: M. Chew, B. Maheshwari, R. Purohit, S. Oza, Y. Dashora, Y. Jadeja, J. Ward, P.K., Singh, R. Kookana, M. Sharma and R. Packham

The booklet is available as flipbook and as PDF in English, Hindi and Gujarati

Empowering village communities for a sustainable water future: A resource book for Jaldoots

Lack of scientific understanding of groundwater situation at grassroots level, lack of attention to demand management measures and near-absence of community participation in groundwater management have led to the concept of participatory groundwater management, under which efforts shall be made to train all the stakeholders including the farmers/youths in villages through para-hydrogeologists – Jaldoots for sustainable management of water resources. The main aim of the resource book prepared by MARVI in collaboration with the Central Ground Water Board is to develop and train the villagers.

Prepared by Central Ground Water Board, Dept. of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Ministry of Jal Shakti, Govt. of India and MARVI

The booklet is available as flipbook and as PDF in English

All publications under the MARVI project can be accessed here 

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