Integrated and sustainable rural water management for improving water quality in Mewat, Haryana

The paper touches on key elements of sustainability pertaining to rural water management, but with greater focus on improving technical sustainability of the infrastructure, through innovations

This paper published by the Sehgal Foundation presents a case study on integrated water management in village Ghaghas1, Haryana, which demonstrated the ways in which ground water could be managed innovatively and demonstrated that when the community participated and had to contribute financially, there was pressure to innovate. Experience in Ghagas village found that the initiative was taken further by a few progressive villagers who were willing to try out new things and they subsequently became role models for others.

Often the failure of water management structures is due to lack of design for silt managementThree important water management structures which cause high impact in a typical Indian village are check dams, recharging wells and soak pits.

Additionally breaking the hard pan, formed in agricultural fields due to excessive use of fertilizers, by deep ploughing with chisel is also helpful in recharging. Low cost technical innovations were made in these structures vis á vis silt management for their long term sustainability. The case study is on integrated water management in village Ghaghas, in Mewat region of Haryana, which is replicable in general, though micro conditions in villages would be different. Sehgal Foundation’s experience during implementation and the lessons learnt are expressed. It is realized that water management need not be too cost intensive or long drawn in terms of time, if certain principles are followed.

This paper highlights ways in which ground water can be managed. When the community participates and has to contribute financially, there is pressure to innovate. Lot of credit goes to a few progressive villagers who are willing to try out new things and subsequently become demonstrators for others. The foundation’s model depends a lot on volunteerism in the village and believes that further research on this is needed.

The foundation uses the principle that ‘success builds success’, and focuses on small interventions which can make big impact. When it came to Ghaghas about 1.5 years ago, there was much resignation, however in a relatively short time this has got converted to enthusiasm after the villagers saw the water filling up in the check dam and percolating into the ground ten times, during the intermittent monsoon showers. It believes that rural development need not be as expensive as often perceived and trust building need not be too time consuming either, if the organization walks‑its‑talk and plans properly in terms of benchmarks, timelines and deliverables.

In the village, low cost technical innovations were made in these structures vis á vis silt management for their long term sustainability. The case study proved that water management need not be too cost intensive or long drawn in terms of time, if certain principles were followed.

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