Water for Tribals

Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (India)

The Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (India) is a non-denominational, non-government development organization. AKRSP(I) works as a catalyst for the betterment of rural communities by providing direct support to local communities. AKRSP (India) is active in over 2700 villages of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar. It has impacted the lives of over 1.5 million people from marginalised sections of society. Over 80% of the households impacted by AKRSP(I) work belong to marginalised societies like tribals, Dalits, minorities and other backward classes. Over 60% of beneficiaries are women who form the core group for program interventions.

AKRSP(I) has pioneered various participatory development approaches in the country over a period of time and it has won various national and international accolades for this. The backbone of AKRSP (I)’s work is the empowerment of rural communities particularly underprivileged and women through collectivization as well as the promotion of individual enterprises. Building self-reliant people’s institutions for financial inclusion, livelihoods enhancement and improved rural governance is the heart of the organization’s approach.

Currently, the organization has major interventions in the areas of Women Empowerment, Sustainable Agriculture and Livestock Development, Natural Resources Management, Early Childhood Development and Primary Education, Skills and Enterprise Development for Youth, Clean Energy, Rural Governance, and, Drinking Water and Sanitation.

“Water for Tribals” Initiative

Rounds of dialogue among various organisations working on water issues in the central tribal belt of India led to a common understanding that the prosperity of rural households relies heavily on water. However, their experience after decades of work revealed that there is still insufficient water access and control for irrigation and drinking purposes in tribal areas and related policies and programmes need specific attention from tribal communities to improve the prevailing scenario.  It was realised that a concerted effort is needed to understand and address this further which lead to the establishment of a dedicated unit named Water for Tribals (WatTri).

WatTri is a collaborative initiative between Axis Bank Foundation and its NGO partners. It was started in 2019 with the aim to influence policies for enhanced water control for tribal communities. The initiative is anchored at AKRSP(I) and works on research and policy for tribal communities in the central Indian tribal belt.

WatTri works on issues of water management related to irrigation and drinking water in the tribal areas of central India with the mission to bring about systemic changes in practice, policy and programs leading to enhanced control over water resources for tribal communities. WatTri envisions a self-reliant tribal society with access to timely availability of sufficient quantity and good quality of water leading to assured livelihood, reduced poverty and better quality of life.

WatTri’s objectives are to conduct policy-related research on water control for tribal communities; to advocate for and influence policies for enhanced water control for tribal communities; to disseminate information on water control for tribal communities; to build a collaboration of governmental and non-governmental institutions and organizations for enhanced water control for tribal communities.

At WatTri we conduct research in collaboration with various civil society organisations, think-tanks; we partner with relevant governmental and non-governmental institutions and stakeholders for evidence gathering, anchoring support, and policy influence; we collate information to create a repository of policy, practice and research on water control for tribal communities; we conduct & organise workshops, webinars and seminars and other such activities to disseminate information towards bringing change on the ground.

 

Featured Articles
March 11, 2022 Subsidies enable tribal farmers to adopt micro-irrigation systems providing them assured irrigation
A key mitigation strategy to deal with water scarcity due to climate change is on-farm management of water using techniques like micro-irrigation (Image: India Water Portal Flickr)
February 28, 2022 Gujarat aims to achieve 100 per cent saturation in tap water connection for every household by October 2022 under the Jal Jeevan Mission
The SCALE project implemented in villages in semi arid regions enabled ultra-poor groups in project villages improve their access to drinking water (Image: European Union, Flickr Commons)
September 1, 2021 The experience of the Foundation for Ecological Security in tribal Mandla, Madhya Pradesh
Fish harvesting by Changariya fishing cooperative, Mandla, Madhya Pradesh (Image: Foundation for Ecological Security)
August 29, 2021 Experience of Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (India) in revitalizing the traditional phad irrigation system in hilly tribal villages of Western Madhya Pradesh
Community members contribute voluntary labour required for laying the pipeline network and tank construction (Image: Anjali Aggarwal)
Tribals await effective implementation of policies
Water access in tribal areas of Gujarat: Status and recommendations Posted on 21 Mar, 2022 04:49 PM

Gujarat is home to 604 lakh people of whom 89 lakh or 15% are Scheduled Tribes (Census of India, 2011). These tribal communities mainly reside in the eastern districts of the state bordering the tribal districts in southern Rajasthan, western Madhya Pradesh, and northern Maharashtra.

Participants discussing about PIM and Pani Samiti (Water Associations)  with local community leaders on a field visit to Pingot Dam (Image: AKRSP)
Making every drop count: Micro-irrigation for tribal farmers of Gujarat
Subsidies enable tribal farmers to adopt micro-irrigation systems providing them assured irrigation Posted on 11 Mar, 2022 03:41 PM

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has recently released the second part of the Sixth Assessment Report – ‘Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability’.

A key mitigation strategy to deal with water scarcity due to climate change is on-farm management of water using techniques like micro-irrigation (Image: India Water Portal Flickr)
Budgetary trends for drinking water in Gujarat: Special focus on tribal communities
Gujarat aims to achieve 100 per cent saturation in tap water connection for every household by October 2022 under the Jal Jeevan Mission Posted on 28 Feb, 2022 01:31 PM

There is a myriad of government schemes and programmes working towards improving water access across the country. Tracking all these initiatives can be cumbersome. The priority that the centre and the states accord to various sectors through the budgetary allocations gives an idea about where the government’s priorities really lie.

The SCALE project implemented in villages in semi arid regions enabled ultra-poor groups in project villages improve their access to drinking water (Image: European Union, Flickr Commons)
Access to resources eludes tribals
Water access in tribal areas of Madhya Pradesh: Challenges and lessons Posted on 18 Feb, 2022 11:02 AM

Madhya Pradesh has the largest tribal population of the country, and 21% of its population is comprised of Scheduled Tribes (STs) as per Census 2011. The state has 46 recognised Scheduled Tribes, spread across the 52 districts in the state. Of this, three are Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG).

Poor implementation of forest rights act hurts tribals (Image: Citizens for Justice and Peace)
Grassroots implementation of Halma
Experiences of a Jhabua based NGO Posted on 15 Feb, 2022 08:37 PM

Jhabua, a tribal-dominated district with more than 85 percent population belonging to Scheduled Tribe (ST), is an agrarian district. Water security is, thus, a crucial element for its agriculture-based livelihood economy.

Tribals protect a community sacred grove (Image: Manish Vaidya, Hindi Water Portal)
Revival of a tribal practice for water resource development
Collective action for water resource development through Halma Posted on 15 Feb, 2022 09:00 AM

There are over 705 ethnic groups, which are recognized as Scheduled Tribes in India (International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs, 2020). These groups have their own unique Gods, beliefs, rituals, practices, and social systems.

The tightly knit tribal society also advocates community action for solving issues (Image: AKRSP)
Revival of Dohas in tribal Madhya Pradesh
Nala widening and deepening to increase water storage and recharge capacity of the stream Posted on 08 Sep, 2021 09:33 AM

The most important precondition to make farming profitable for small and marginal tribal farmers residing in undulating terrains

Dohas constructed in a stream in Dindori district. (Image: Action for Social Advancement)
Lift irrigation cooperatives provide irrigation to tribal drylands
Existing government schemes and programmes offer good potential for scale-up these cooperatives in various states Posted on 06 Sep, 2021 03:59 PM

The earliest known civilizations settled around rivers as they provided access to the water needed for cultivating crops. Over time, humans learnt to control the flow of water by the construction of barriers across the direction of the river flow.

Simalaghasi check dam across Panam river, Dahod constructed by NM Sadguru Water and Development Foundation (Image: NM Sadguru Water and Development Foundation)
Managing water commons through fishing cooperatives
The experience of the Foundation for Ecological Security in tribal Mandla, Madhya Pradesh Posted on 01 Sep, 2021 09:36 AM

The total area under tanks and ponds in India is over 2.9 million hectares (Ministry of Jal Shakti, 2017).

Fish harvesting by Changariya fishing cooperative, Mandla, Madhya Pradesh (Image: Foundation for Ecological Security)
Diversion-based irrigation systems
Experience of Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (India) in revitalizing the traditional phad irrigation system in hilly tribal villages of Western Madhya Pradesh Posted on 29 Aug, 2021 06:59 PM

For centuries, communities in undulating, hilly and mountainous regions have been using gravity flow water systems for drinking water and irrigation purposes.

Community members contribute voluntary labour required for laying the pipeline network and tank construction (Image: Anjali Aggarwal)
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