Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Indian farmers pool groundwater to protect against drought

Manipadma Jena in Reuters AlertNet: Until 10 years ago, the six acres of land Dappu Pulya owns with his younger brother in India's drought-prone state of Andhra Pradesh produced nothing but debt. The brothers took out loan after loan to buy seeds, pesticides and fertilizers but their crops failed as the monsoons came late or less rain fell. After investing in two bore wells that drew no water, they migrated to Mumbai to work in construction.

But since they returned in 2000 to their hamlet of Malkaipet, in Ibrahimpur village some 100 kilometres from Hyderabad, things have been different. With their earnings, they paid off their loans, dug another bore well that drew water and in 2008 joined 17 other farmers in a groundwater-sharing network.

The network is transforming agriculture in a region where chronically low rainfall and unpredictable rainfall patterns - exacerbated by climate change - have left many farmers in ruin. Through the network, six bore well owners share their water, via a network of channels, with twelve farmers without wells. Farmers pay into a common fund to maintain the system, with those who invested in wells paying much less.

"Such community networks address the water crisis challenge by not only protecting the investments of bore well owners, but also by providing critical irrigation to those who do not have access to groundwater," said Suresh Kosaraju, director of the Watershed Support Services and Activities Network (WASSAN), a Hyderabad-based non-profit. "This will result in all-round protection of livelihoods as well as ensuring food security," he said….

Irrigating an Indian rice field, shot by Sebastianjude, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

No comments: