Rapid increase in the use of groundwater and its declining availability has threatened the existence of this important resource. A community experiment by Desh Bandhu and Manju Gupta Foundation (DBMG), which involves implementing water resource development and mobilising farmers to use groundwater as a common resource through group wells, is showing good results.
What are the characteristics of ‘community wells’?
- Groundwater to be treated as a community resource and not as private
- Groundwater to be used equitably by all the community members and not be monopolized by a few resource-rich farmers.
- Control the rampant increase in number of wells and groundwater use
What did the Dhule initiative include?
- Implementation of community wells programme in two districts
- Activities to include watershed development, group well and water harvesting structures construction
- Expenses shared equally between farmers & DBMG foundation
- Successful sharing of water initiated
How is water sharing carried out?
- Formal and legal agreement signed between group members
- Water shared by the whole group
- All members cultivate equal amounts of land
- All follow same cropping pattern
- All contribute equally
- Well belongs to the whole group and not a single individual
Salient features of the initiative
- Formal agreements between farmers
- Nothing is given as free to farmers to develop a sense of ownership
- Provision of easy loans to farmers through DBMG
- Forward linkage in terms of better varieties of seeds, better agricultural practices provided
- Only for resource poor farmers who do not have wells
Areas of improvement
- More data collection and assessment
- Use of water saving techniques like drip irrigation & sprinklers
- Need to scale up the programme
- Need to start recharge protection and artificial recharge measures
- Bring all initiatives under one banner
- Start an advocacy campaign