Community-managed water resource mapping to benefit 25k families


By GV News Desk

11 January 2023

50 volunteers trained by Gram Vikas have participated in an ongoing baseline survey from August 2022 in Surada and Daringbadi blocks for  water source mapping. These volunteers visit water sources in the villages to find out the following: 

  • Where is the water source located
  • For how long is water available in the source during the year
  • How old is the water source
  • Whom does it belong to
  • Whether the water is safe for drinking or not
  • For what purpose is the water being used

Gram Vikas is partnering with Axis Bank Foundation to enable water security for 29 Gram Panchayats in Ganjam and Kandhamal districts. A baseline survey is ongoing in which volunteers collect data on the water sources in a village under each Gram Panchayat. The information collected is then uploaded to the mWater portal. The survey is currently going on in Surada block in Ganjam district, and Daringbadi block in Kandhamal district, and is set to benefit 25,760 households.

Water Security Gram Panchayat (WSGP), a key initiative in the fifth decade of Gram Vikas, gains importance in the context of the impending water crisis in India. The WSGP approach will bring together the habitation households within a Gram Panchayat to manage their water resources and build local governance systems capacities to facilitate this. It will leverage the social capital and respect among the communities built over 40 years, complement government programmes to harness the benefits of collaboration, and use data and evidence to achieve time and cost efficiencies.

The Rural Livelihood Project supported by Axis Bank Foundation will reach 846 villages in the two districts. The baseline data will enable better understanding of the aquifers, the quantum of water, its characteristics, and help determine the groundwater table in the region, through a pre-monsoon level measurement. The data is being put together for water availability estimations.

41 households reside in Gundarikampa village in Badabanga Gram Panchayat in Daringbadi block. The village has a tubewell and a small pond as its sources for water for drinking and other household uses. The information collected during the survey in the village indicates that the tubewell dries up after two to three buckets of water is pumped out. The second source of water in the village, a small pond, also dries up during summer, leading to severe water scarcity in the village. Residents dug another tubewell in 2021 at the Anganwadi Center in the village, and have been using the water to meet their needs.

This baseline data will be further verified during Focussed Group Discussions (FGDs) with the villagers to understand the water demand and availability around the year. The information will become part of the Village Action Plan (VAP). The VAP is a master plan for a village’s water situation and needs including water availability, rainfall pattern, drought situation, groundwater level, prevalent—if anywater-borne diseases, and the situation of water resources throughout the year in the village.

Each Gram Panchayat will have a Water Security Plan (WSP). The plan is discussed by the village committees that come under a Panchayat. The VDCs and the Gram Panchayat Coordination Committee (GPCC) will take WSP further for resource mobilisation to implement necessary interventions.

Data from the ongoing survey on water sources will help determine crop-specific packages of practices for villages with water availability for sustainable agricultural practices of households in the village and boost their incomes. Water availability will determine irrigation opportunities and will be part of a Panchayat’s WSP. Based on the findings, the Water Resources Technology Group (WRTG) and the Farm Livelihood teams of Gram Vikas will design irrigation measures and share them with the VDC, Farmer Producer Group, and youth in a village to improve productivity and income opportunities.

Groundwater and surface water inventory help us understand how water is consumed, used, or shared. This effort to catalog water provides a comprehensive and descriptive analysis of water sources which has become increasingly essential for sustainable development and scale. Improving water security by efficiently managing water resources is critical for  boosting local economies.

As part of our Decade V strategy, we want to grow deeper with the communities we have already worked with; to help build upon, extend, and sustain results already achieved; and create new interventions in response to the needs of communities.

Agriculture is the mainstay of the economy in these two blocks. However, the net cultivated area is limited to 22% in Daringbadi, and 38% in Surada, mainly due to the non-availability of water and lack of water harvesting infrastructures and measures. Several watershed development projects have been implemented in the region as part of government schemes. Still, only some have taken up a holistic watershed approach to plan and implement.

In many areas in the two blocks, the watershed’s upper reaches lie in reserved forests, limiting the scope of any meaningful intervention. With increasing population, smaller land holdings, dwindling productivity due to climate change and rainfall patterns, and lack of income opportunities, most men from the two blocks migrate to other states for work. The ‘Rural Livelihood Project’ will benefit members of the family at source, which accounts for nearly 51% female population (in both blocks) depending on remittances and who need social, emotional, and financial security for improved living. It could also bestow women and youth with opportunities to upskill in order to improve their income earning abilities.

See the Spring Water Atlas, where Adivasi youth have mapped 1899 Springs across 816 habitations in Odisha: https://bit.ly/3mwYsy5

Jinu Pradhan, a trained village volunteer measuring the water source in village Takarmala, Sraniketa Gram Panchayat of Daringbadi block.

Photograph by Sabita Pradhan


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