Integrated springshed management interventions in the Indian Himalayan Region
Springs are the main source of water for about 200 million people in India, a majority (80%) of whom live in the Himalayan states. At the same time, nearly 50 million people in the 12 states of the Indian Himalayan Region (IHR) are highly dependent on groundwater for their livelihood and water security. However, these groundwater sources either have been drying up or becoming seasonal due to natural and anthropogenic activities like climate variability, erratic rainfall, seismic activity, ecological degradation, change in infrastructure developments and agricultural practices, and more. The drying of water supply sources has resulted in severe water crises in many parts of the Himalayan region, increasing out-migration and challenging the livelihood security of communities.
Over the last decade, growing understanding of the impact of climate change on groundwater recharge and spring yields in the Himalayas has led to a number of projects being launched in the region. These projects aim to reduce and mitigate climate change’s impacts and to revive and sustain springs using engineering, biological and social measures. Spring revival efforts using hydrogeological principles have become the most widely-used model of springshed management by the Trusts and their associate organisations in the western and central Himalayan region.
The Tata Trusts’ ‘One Water’ concept promotes overall water management in rural areas with a focus on enhancing the resilience of communities. It ensures that natural resources are conserved, managed and sustained through collective action. Taking forward the experiences from the previous interventions, the current project is designed and implemented to demonstrate a decentralised, community-centric water security programme at scale by the adoption of sustainable development approaches.
The community-managed sustainable access to safe drinking water supply through integrated springshed management interventions in the Indian Himalayan Region will focus on water security interventions in six regions: Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Ladakh, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, and Nagaland.
The project’s objectives are to:
- Restore ecological balance by harnessing, conserving and developing water resources to ensure the sustainability of drinking water schemes through integrated springshed management in 745 villages covering 48,820 households across six states of the central and western Himalayan region
- Promote the management of water at the lowest appropriate level through decentralised and integrated water resource management by water user groups (WUGs) and village councils (VCs)
- Provide institutional facilitation support for community level groups through social behavioural change communication (SBCC), and empower WUGs for overall water management, water quality monitoring and surveillance, etc.
- Promote improved practices for concurrent water quality monitoring and surveillance by community members
- Influence state and/or national level policy aspects for the development of an integrated water security programme