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10th International Rainwater Catchment Systems Conference
"Rainwater International 2001"
Mannheim, Germany - September 2001

Section 5: Legal and Political Aspects of Rainwater Harvesting

Paper 5.17

Watersheds in the New Millennium: Can Rainwater Harvesting Drought-proof India?

Sudhirendar Sharma
Energy Environment Group
7 Triveni
A6 Paschim Vihar
New Delhi 110063


India's substantial investment in rural development during the past five decades of post-independence era has not produced matching transformation on the ground. With focus of development being largely sector specific, the impact has rarely reached the rural poor. Consequently, sustainable transformation of rural ecosystems with people's participation has remained isolated and scattered.

People's participation, the key to community-centered development, has remained largely stuck in the `you participate in my programme' mode. As a result, for lack of community ownership the impact of investment in rural development and natural resource generation has not been effective and long lasting.

The recent impetus to already-existing watershed development programmes is a policy response to reverse the prevailing malaise in integrated rural development programmes. The experiences, as of now, are quite varied, ranging from about a dozen very successful projects to a large number of non-effective projects. But wherever enterprising community groups had decided to better their circumstances with some external assistance, they were able to improve their socio-economic conditions considerably in a relatively short time span.

Sukhomajri project in Haryana and Adagaon project in Maharashtra, to name a few, have clearly demonstrated that eco-restoration is possible in highly degraded lands and that it can regenerate local economies and alleviate poverty in a sustainable and cost-effective manner. Today, these initiatives are particularly important because they have now matured. An advanced level of ecological succession has now reached and their economic impact is clearly visible. However, the numbers of such successful projects continue to be limited. Nevertheless, the success of some of these projects has given an added impetus to watershed development in the country.

PDF of full document (5pp, 39kb)

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