Restoration of traditional water harvesting structures

The Collective initiated restoration of water harvesting structures that gave immediate results and improved the situation of the farmers thereby motivating them for the “long-term” investment of eco-restoration.

Tank desiltation is one of the major components implemented by the CBOs in the project area. As part of the restoration work, tanks were desilted and the excavated silt applied to the dry lands in the catchment area. Over the years hundreds of acres have been treated with silt from the tanks and the villages have benefited tremendously. People’s contribution to this intervention has been to the tune of 35 to 40%.

The effect of tanks desiltation is predominant in Mushtikovela, Kogira and Kambaalapalli villages. The increased storage in tanks has recharged a number of wells in Kogira and Mushtikovela villages. The tanks also are the main source of drinking water for animals during summer, a water source for irrigated agriculture plus is a source of secondary livelihoods to the communities.

Watershed Development

In recognition of the Collective’s capabilities in the sphere of eco restoration and community mobilisation, during 2001-2002, the district administration invited the Collective to become a Project Implementation Agency (PIA) and take up 14 watersheds spread over 14 villages and 3 mandals. The idea was to help the villagers to develop and manage their watersheds. Each of these watersheds has a geographical spread of over 500 hectares each.

Initially, a primary survey was conducted. After this, Gram sabhas were held, to help plan the programme in an inclusive and open manner. Participatory Rural Appraisals (PRAs) were conducted to identify existing water bodies such as tanks, springs, water holes and checkdams. While making the social and resource maps during the PRAs, it was found that each watershed village had as many as 10 to 30 water bodies that needed renovation.

Plans were also made for constructing new water bodies. Simultaneously, user groups were formed in every watershed village to take the responsibility of implementing the programme.

Totally 264 restoration work of water bodies were initiated through 210 user groups. Awareness building on the importance and future maintenance of these water bodies has been an ongoing effort. Wage rates were discussed and payments were made during the user group meetings.

In the context of heavy investments for ground nut and untimely and meager rains dry land horticulture is a better alternative. Under the watershed programme farmers initiated horticulture in 458 acres. 28,721 pits were dug for this purpose.