The Bundelkhand Initiative for Water Agriculture and Livelihood (BIWAL) is a great initiative to restore Bundelkhand’s traditional water bodies and the ecosystem in the vicinity through engaging the community.
Background of BIWAL Program
Bundelkhand region of North-Central India’s traditional water bodies have always played a critical role in its history and today must regain their former glory and play an even larger role for ground water recharge, crop cultivation and livelihood purposes. CSOs have come together to form an informal consortium called Bundelkhand Initiative for Water Agriculture and Livelihood (BIWAL) with this aim in mind.
EFI’s work in water conservation centers around restoring polluted freshwater lakes and ponds. Examples of this are Kinhi-Gadegaon Lake in Maharashtra, Tirunelveli-Keezh Ambur Lake in Tamil Nadu, Navulekere Pond in Karnataka’s Shivamogga district as well as others.
EFI is working in villages to teach natural farming practices that will increase farmers’ incomes by using less water and avoiding harmful chemicals. Success of this model relies on water conservation efforts like clearing silt from tanks and reinvigorating their storage capacities; such efforts also create favorable conditions by increasing fertility while retaining moisture levels in soil.
Objectives and Goals
BIWAL works to empower women farmers and more vulnerable sections of society. It builds capacity for sustainable development through community-led efforts that receive support from Madhya Pradesh State Government.
This program emphasizes water conservation and natural farming in regions most susceptible to drought in India. Additionally, it promotes self-reliant communities living in harmony with nature while using indigenous water harvesting techniques; using these techniques has revitalized over 10 rivers while turning areas once vulnerable to drought into flourishing ecosystems.
Stutilina Pal is a Programme Manager at SRIJAN and works at the grassroots level to implement sustainable models of agriculture across central India. She specializes in gender equality, local resource management and grassroots democracy – among her areas of focus are gender equality and grassroots democracy.
CARD strives to develop a holistic model of rural watershed management for Bundelkhand region through community-led initiatives and partnerships, engaging citizens to become active participants, delegating financial management responsibilities to Tank Management Committees (TMC), desilting 12 tanks while simultaneously increasing rainwater collection capacities, groundwater recharge capacities and creating conducive conditions enabling farmers to adopt low-cost natural farming.
Bundelkhand is currently experiencing revitalization of traditional water bodies and their associated ecosystem through a consortium of civil action organizations, water conservation experts and members of local communities.
At Kheminkhera Village in Gaurihar Block of Mahoba District, revitalization work has shown promising early success of natural farming methods. One couple in particular managed to produce 15 different vegetables on less than one fourth of an acre – providing their family with year-round supply as well as cash income.
Silt removal from 12 tanks and its deposition on fields has greatly increased soil fertility while conserving more water, creating favorable conditions for natural farming practices to succeed.
Stutilina Pal is the Program Manager at SRIJAN, a public charitable trust. She earned her Master’s in Gender and Development from the Institute of Development Studies, UK, with special interest in sustainable livelihoods promotion, women empowerment through grassroots democracy and advancing grassroots democracy initiatives. Stutilina has worked in development sector for 14 years – she received the Chevening Scholarship to study these subjects further!
BIWAL takes an innovative approach to development that prioritizes communities with multiple development challenges, including those living in water-scarce areas. Such communities tend to be poor and possess weak capacities for organizing economic development – many families living below poverty lines.
Therefore, the BIWAL program targets vulnerable communities to develop and implement programs to increase income and livelihood. This may involve training and providing support for natural farming methods; setting up village federationss to manage production; improving market infrastructure; or connecting value chain actors.
As well as helping secure people’s land rights and become eligible for PMAY (the world’s largest housebuilding initiative), this service also assists people to protect their land rights and become eligible for its benefits – for instance through pilot projects in Gujarat that enable slum dwellers to invest their own money into upgrading their houses with security of tenure – no eviction guarantee and therefore qualify for PMAY benefits. Other examples include providing digital property records to individuals for searching titles, effect transfers or obtain certified copies of documents.
Key Components and Activities
Bundelkhand Initiative for Water Agriculture and Livelihood (BIWAL) is a community-led program with an objective of revitalizing traditional water bodies of Bundelkhand. Due to drought and neglect, most traditional tanks have become silted up, overgrown or used for other purposes than harvesting water. In order to promote water conservation efforts again, multiple civil action organizations, water conservation experts, authorities have come together in an alliance which is currently carrying out this initiative known as BIWAL project.
BIWAL places its primary emphasis on tank management committees – village-level democratic institutions designed to empower communities by dispensing decision making responsibilities – by training committee members on water budgeting and providing them with access to readily usable information regarding water availability and its sparing use.
Though India’s public distribution system (PDS) has made strides toward combatting malnutrition by providing steady supplies of calories, more work needs to be done towards combatting hidden hunger–consisting of chronic micronutrient deficiency that even households with sufficient food security can experience. NFSA may help overcome some of these challenges by increasing transparency, accountability and efficiency among ration shops.
Role of Government and Stakeholders
These early trials demonstrate the power of natural farming with its emphasis on low costs and self-sufficiency as an agricultural strategy; natural farming could become an invaluable asset to India agriculture over time.
The NGO has also developed a rooftop water harvesting technique, using naturally filtered rainwater for drinking, domestic uses and to recharge borewells and groundwater levels – helping hundreds of families in Bundelkhand increase their incomes while living more sustainably.
Organisation is working on revitalizing traditional water bodies in villages. So far, its efforts have resulted in deepening eight tanks and helping communities reclaim the benefits associated with traditional water sources, including reduced transport needs from distant sources and employment opportunities for local women. Furthermore, this work helps preserve biodiversity while protecting ecosystem services – increasing farmers’ access to low cost water solutions.
Monitoring and Evaluation Mechanisms
BIWAL works closely with local farmers to promote natural farming practices and increase incomes through low cost technology based on improving utilization of free local resources such as cow dung and urine, soil and water management techniques and natural inputs such as cow dung. Farmers have increased output on their land three to four times using these natural inputs.
India has seen vaccination programs help to lower FMD outbreaks, yet their exact impact has yet to be understood fully. To fully comprehend how vaccination works in practice, a comprehensive spatial analysis must be conducted including evaluation of biosecurity measures, movement control systems, and systematic age-stratified surveillance systems.
Rainfed India faces two primary concerns when it comes to crop production and food security: inherent climate variations are expected to reduce yields (Alexandratos & Bruinsma 2012). 350 million people (10% of global population) are undernourished today; as this rising population requires more food, demand will likely increase by 60% (Ten Berge et al. 2019).
Impact and Outcomes
Many global studies examine the effect of land use change on biodiversity or carbon sequestration; however, very few assess both. There is evidence to support reducing land-use intensity as having positive trade-offs for both goals.
Example: Farmers in Hamirpur district of Uttar Pradesh have witnessed an exponentially higher milk production and sales. Ghee and paneer products which are consumed during summer have also experienced greater sales due to safer transportation methods. Furthermore, more villagers are visiting local hospitals due to safer travel.
Revitalizing traditional water bodies has been one of the key results of the BIWAL program. Reviving these tanks has spurred on innovative practices in agriculture and livelihoods; for instance in Chhitarwara village Arvind and his fellow farmers have utilized the BIWAL model to expand their natural farming abilities by using low-cost technologies; using this model they have tripled productivity on their farm while harvesting more vegetables such as watermelons.