Participatory water management in India: Theory and practice

Theresa Frommen1, Maike Groeschke2, Michael Schneider2
1 Arbeitsgruppe Hydrogeologie, Institut für Geologische Wissenschaften, FU Berlin
2 Abteilung 2: Grundwasser und Boden, Bundesanstalt für Geowissenschaften und Rohstoffe (BGR)

O 19.15 in Young Hydrogeologists forum

21.03.2018, 16:15-16:30, 3

When turning our attention away from the (ground-)water situation in industrialized countries and setting the focus on countries characterized by rapid population growth, urbanization and climate change impacts, it becomes clear that the exploration of groundwater resources alone is not a sufficient basis for initiating water management strategies to solve water problems in both quality and quantity. Hydrogeology projects in such countries, therefore, increasingly focus on bottom-up approaches and cooperation between hydrogeologists and social scientists (see UpGro project by BGS). The advantage of this method is that it puts both, the solutions which are locally implemented to solve water problems (e.g. by NGOs or government) and the outcomes of hydrogeological research projects, to a more sustainable use. However, in pursuing this approach numerous unexpected challenges have to be overcome.

Insights from an ongoing case-study in Jaipur, India, focusing on participatory community-based water management in low-income areas, under the lead of the Indian NGO Mahila Housing SEWA Trust and funded by the Global Resilience Partnership, illustrate the challenges hydrogeologists face both during the field work and in the cooperation with local partner organizations. One of the biggest challenges are the often unrealistic expectations people have towards hydrogeological research, as they assume it will solve all water-related problems in a short time. Additionally, the work is highly influenced by the way people imagine groundwater, which has also a huge impact on how they deal with it. A basic understanding of groundwater as well as of the necessity of an ongoing monitoring, however, is of great importance for the sustainability of a participatory approach.

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