Water planning and budgeting by empowered Jal Sahelis in Bundelkhand
The Bundelkhand region in North India is presently known as water-starved terrain. A persistent drought situation in the area has not been addressed by the drought declaration criteria or drought management manual of the state. In such a condition, the burden of fetching and managing water becomes the primary responsibility of women for managing their household chores and fulfilling family water needs despite the fact that they have no equitable say in the decision-making process of water management.
Against this backdrop, the Parmarth Samaj Sevi Sansthan sought to reduce the vulnerability of the community by securing water through women’s participation. The project area, comprising three districts, faced approximately 50 percent deficit in annual rainfall.
The primary stakeholders in the project were representatives from Jal Saheli Network and the Pani Panchayats which were community-based organizations of the region. The Parmarth Samaj Sevi Sansthan (PSSS) is a national civil society organization working in the Bundelkhand region. The project was financially supported by the European Union.
APPROACH AND METHODOLOGY
The execution of this strategy- decentralization of water resource management- has played a crucial role in improving community resilience and decreasing the adverse impacts of climate change. To this end, Parmarth created water livelihood linkages models incorporating the critical dimension of community participation. A bottom-up approach enabled the incorporation of the traditional water management process.
Women’s participation in the decision-making process at all levels was essential in this approach. Creation of a distinguishable representative for women’s voice in democratic institutions can, in the long term, led to a positive impact on livelihood opportunities.
The interventions under the project aimed at achieving water and food security. The project also aimed to make a transition in the role of women, from arranging water for individual household units to managing water for the overall community.
The major intervention was the preparation of a water security plan, which included an action plan for ensuring water security and sustainability of the village. About 2,000
women leaders were trained and empowered through capacity-building, technical training, and this exposure created awareness about water and livelihood rights and IWRM techniques. The training input also enhanced their understanding of technical design, management, and maintenance of traditional water bodies. This also enabled
women leaders for formation of Water Security Plans, including gender empowerment (gender-based water budgeting). It also envisaged that they would be able to identify, create, and revive water bodies with community participation. Overall water availability improved through the renovation of 30 old water structures and creation of 20 new water structures.