The impacts of climate change exacerbate the still significant poverty in the rural areas in India due to the massive deterioration of natural resources that they entail. However, innovative approaches implemented in the last decade in the Natural Resources Management (NRM) Sector generated far-reaching experiences in how to cope with extreme dry conditions and a deteriorated natural resource base.
The Indo-German Watershed Development Programme (IGWDP), implemented by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) and leading Indian NGOs like WOTR, and supported by the German Government through KfW, began on a small scale in 1992. The Programme now covers over 300,000 hectares of drylands
through 300 projects spread across the states of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, and Rajasthan, with an investment of over 70 million euro. More importantly, the Watershed Development Fund (WDF), created jointly by the Government of India and NABARD in 1999 to replicate the IGWDP model of Watershed Development, has now grown to over 100 million euro.
The experience provides evidence that the IGWDPs not only combat poverty, by improving soil conditions and agricultural productivitiy but also prepare communities to adapt to the impacts of climate Change.
Eleven union states and 352 projects at different levels of implementation are covered by the Fund. Major impacts of IGWDP on the micro-level (villages and households) include the substantial increase in people’s income, the improvement of the resource base and enhanced community confidence. Based on the study of the IGWDPs, the “Report on World Resources 2005’” concludes that “restoration can revitalise watersheds and communities” (see www.wri.org).
According to a World Bank study, IGWDP has the highest efficiency of all analysed programmes in Maharashtra; the costs per hectare are well within the range of governmental and other programmes (Kerr et al: Watershed Development Projects in India, IFPRI Research Rep. 127, 2002, p.46). In addition, local decision-making and governance structures are improved. This is being achieved through the establishment of village committees co-ordinating with Panchayati Raj Systems, through project implementation and fund management within a transparent and reliable framework, through forging links with district and state government systems, and more importantly, through consensus and empowerment of poor communities.
On a macro-level (state, national) the Programme has resulted in the following policy impacts:
- Setting up of the National Water Development Fund (WDF) at NABARD in 1999 (see above).
- Integration of innovative elements of IGWDP into National Watershed Development Programmes (e.g. capacity building concepts).
Additionally, the IGWDP substantially influenced the common approach adopted by central ministries in 2002 for watershed development. The IGWDP holds the unique distinction of not only providing policy recommendations but also highlighting the need for policy dialogue as a vehicle for structural change. Furthermore, a recent Ex-Post evaluation of the IGWDPs in Mahrashtra provides evidence that the IGWDPs not only combat poverty but also prepare communities to adapt to the impacts of climate change.
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