Promoting sustainable groundwater development in rural areas - Need experiences and examples

From Shrikant Daji Limaye, Ground Water Institute, Pune
Posted 27 November 2008

I am Shrikant Daji Limaye, the Project Leader for the UNESCO-IUGS-IGCP Project GROWNET (Ground Water Network for Best Practices in Ground Water Management in Low Income Countries) working with the Ground Water Institute, Pune.

We are working to augment the sustainable development of groundwater in low-income countries. The issues to be considered for ensuring sustainable groundwater management are maintaining the quality of groundwater and yields of wells/bore wells. For sustainable yields, both demand management and supply management are necessary.

Supply management usually rests with government departments; however, NGOs are also active in this field. Demand management is mostly done through the rapport between NGO and villagers. At the same time, farmers have a sense of ownership over groundwater available under their farms and would like to pump as much groundwater as available from the well/bore well, without necessarily considering the contribution of their farm to the total groundwater resources in the watershed.

The main problem seems to be the need to sensitize villagers towards soil and water conservation activities in watershed areas, and promote recharge of groundwater so as to ensure drinking water and irrigational supply for at least two crops per year (supply management). Once this is achieved, the Gram Sabhas generally give directions regarding the use of the augmented groundwater reservoir.

Given the above, I would request members to please share the following:

  • What experiences have there been with villagers voluntarily participating in government schemes for soil and water conservation, forestry, etc. designed to augment groundwater recharge?
  • Are there any examples of self-regulation on pumping of groundwater (for example bore wells to be used exclusively for drinking water supply and only dug wells to be used for irrigation)?
  • Are there any examples of villagers or Gram Sabhas voluntarily imposing a ban on irrigating waterintensive crops (such as bananas, sugarcane, etc) and reducing the area under irrigation when required?

We will use member's inputs to collect and verify the best practices in groundwater resource development and management in low-income countries and post them on the GROWNET website: Selected contributions, along with the contributor's name as collaborator of GROWNET, will be posted for global dissemination on our website.

We hope this will assist us in our endeavour to achieve sustainable groundwater development through internet as an effective tool for global dissemination of information on local actions.

Please see attachment below for the responses.