Climate Change Adaptation and Water Conservation
India faces a tumultuous water future. There are a host of realities which make the situation far worse. Already 15% of aquifers are in critical condition, a number which is projected to increase to a frightening 60% by the year 2030. A compounding factor is that there is every indication that the need for storage will grow because global climate change is going to have major impacts in India.
There are strong indications that climate change is likely to affect India in a number of ways. There is little uncertainty about some of these impacts. As global temperatures continue to rise, this will affect the “water banks” (glaciers) which are a prominent part of the Himalayan water systems. In the long run, the water flow in the Ganges could drop by two-thirds, affecting more than 400 million people who depend on it for drinking water. What does seem likely is that climate change will increase the variability of already highly-variable rainfall patterns, requiring efforts in managing both scarcity and floods.
With its huge and growing population, an economy that is closely tied to its natural resource base, India is considerably vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. It is increasingly being recognized that adaptation needs are greatest in poorer agrarian and riparian communities, which are most vulnerable to climate change.
Integrated water resource management will continue to be an adaptation strategy for people living with rainfall variability, both for domestic supply and to enhance crop, livestock and other forms of agriculture. Integrated natural resource management comprises the planned, coordinated and sustainable use of water resources, agriculture resources, grazing lands and forests. Assured water supplies results increased crop yield providing the basis for the achievement of food security and poverty reduction.
In India, the issue of climate change has not yet been embedded in national policies to the fullest extent. Hence, in order to protect people and nature, it is imperative to step up the promotion of adaptation measures.
Adaptation too is about – and must build from – the action of people, especially the poorest people who are the most vulnerable and most likely to actively adapt. Hence, if sustainable development is still to be achieved in a world with climate change, water shed management has to be considered an integral part of adaptation to climate change.
Tarun Bharat Sangh (TBS) is an NGO working in the Rajasthan state of India. As the organization is situated in semi arid region of Rajasthan, it has been constructing rain water harvesting structures and mobilizing village communities to work for natural resource conservation.
The effects are visible in terms of recharging of wells and aquifers, renewed flow of rivulets which had been dry for many years, increased bio-mass productivity, and significant increase in agriculture production, reversal of out-migration and reduction in women’s drudgery. Due to high fodder availability, villagers have also benefited from selling milk products through an informal cooperative arrangement.
The TBS’s achievements in building up appropriate institutional mechanisms for integrated water resource management based on traditional and indigenous skills, knowledge, cultural values are well recognized and appreciated by cross-section of the society. This recognition propelled TBS to pursue advocacy route to transform the people-exclusionary policies into inclusive one on issues of rights, conservation, management, pollution, over-exploitation and encroachment of water resources.
REGION: Tarun Bharat Sangh is an NGO working in the state of Rajasthan of India from last 25 years. TBS focuses on the river valleys of the villages in the different districts of Rajasthan.
GOAL: To reduce poverty of destitute sections of rural communities by ensuring water and food security through equitable and sustainable natural resources management.
- To organize rural communities in the project area for sustainable and equitable natural resource conservation and its management ensuring water and food security
- To increase awareness campaign among riparian and agrarian communities about the impacts of climate change and its adaptive measures.
- Rural communities in the project area get organized for integrated natural resource conservation and management
- Enhanced capacity of riparian and agrarian communities regarding adaptation towards Climate Change
A. RURAL COMMUNITIES IN THE PROJECT AREA GET ORGANIZED FOR INTEGRATED NATURAL RESOURCE CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT
In recent years TBS has focused on expansion of natural resource conservation in integrated manner. Therefore besides water conservation it also focuses on the areas such as organic agriculture, grazing lands and forests, composting etc. through a participatory micro- planning approach.
Reduction of vulnerability should be promoted through natural resource based approaches which provide multiple benefits, generate immediate economic returns to poor people, sustain and diversify their livelihoods, conserve ecosystems and wherever possible sequester carbon. In other words promoting integrated natural resource management fosters sustainable livelihoods and development as well as adaptation to climate change.
- Increasing awareness about sustainable and equitable practices of water use, grazing lands and forests through awareness campaigns, seminars, workshops, foot marches, exposure visits.
- Construction of water harvesting structures of various types in an integrated manner in the project area of TBS
B. ENHANCED CAPACITY OF RIPARIAN AND AGRARIAN COMMUNITIES REGARDING ADAPTATION TOWARDS CLIMATE CHANGE
The effect of climate changes on water scarcity and quality as well as frequency of floods and droughts will intensify the need for sound water management. Many crops will react negatively to even a minimal warming because they are already near their upper temperature limit.
It is clear that the implications of climate change are going to affect the riparian and agrarian communities more. TBS feels the need of awaking these communities about the implications of climate change and its adaptive measures at local level.
Increasing awareness about climate change, its impacts on the livelihood of riparian and agrarian communities and its adaptive measures through:
- Foot marches/ workshops/ exposure visits/ seminars
- Awareness camps & activities for school going and other children
- Publication & dissemination of awareness material
- Demonstration/ promotion of models of green technologies like smokeless stoves, solar lights, wind energy etc