The focus of watershed (catchment) development projects in India has been on improving agricultural production from poor and degraded lands. Water management has generally been limited to making better use of 'green' water (soil moisture for crops and trees) rather than 'blue' water (rivers, tanks or aquifers). Water and sanitation (WATSAN) is rarely given specific consideration – even where it is the main problem faced by rural communities and the key to improving livelihoods. This article considers how watershed (catchment) development projects might be modified to explicitly address WATSAN needs or challenges.
Increased exploitation of groundwater for irrigation is one factor leading to dangerously high levels of fluoride in drinking water in parts of India. Involving local people in testing and monitoring can help to find safe sources. It is then important to protect sources by improving local recharge and reducing nearby extraction.
In a rapidly changing and ever more complex world, ‘wicked problems’, which traditional, narrowly focused research struggles to grapple with, are becoming more and more common, including in the water sector. Here, numerous good practices derived through traditional research have shown a remarkable resistance towards scaling up. This paper discusses the Learning Alliance approach and its application to try to overcome the twin challenges of solving complex problems and scaling-up innovations in urban water management. Learning alliances are interlinked multi-stakeholder platforms formed at appropriate levels. Critically, the purpose of a learning alliance is to do things differently, rather than to do different things, in order to have more impact on policy and practice. The paper summarizes initial experiences and lessons learned in applying this approach in three urban water management projects.
Over the past year, discussions have being going on within the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector on the possible implications of climate change on services provisions, and the practical adaptation measures that could or should be taken by the sector. Although not conclusive, two important points of agreement have emerged as a result of these discussions. First, climate change predictions are characterized by high levels of uncertainty, particularly at the spatial scales at which most decisions on WASH services provision are made. Second, while it should be taken very seriously, climate change is not the only, and probably not the most important, factor to consider in the short and medium term. This paper argues that the most effective approach to adaptation is to strengthen governance of the WASH sector, for example by adopting principles of adaptive management and by using tools such as scenario building as an integral part of decision-making. In addition, it calls for better embedding of WASH services provision within an integrated water resource management framework.