Community watersheds for rural livelihood needed-Govt

Community watersheds for rural livelihood needed-Govt

New Delhi: Government called for harmonisation of the various watershed programmes in the country with other ongoing projects of rural development to ensure all-round benefit to the rural population.

Secretary in the department of land resources, Ministry of Rural Development, Rita Sinha said that the ministry in order to achieve this objective has taken a number of initiatives to speed up implementation of watershed projects.

Sinha while addressing a national workshop on the comprehensive assessment of watershed programmes and their impact on rural lives said: “The ministry has always been stressing the importance of community watersheds for rural livelihoods."

Sinha said that the ministry undertook a comprehensive assessment of various case studies on watershed management.

Conducted by a consortium of 15 institutions, led by ICRISAT (International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics) and co-sponsored by agriculture ministry, the assessment found that only 1% of the watershed projects in India were not beneficial. Overall, the assessment shows a benefit to cost ratio of 2:1 and an internal rate of return of 21.43%.

The comprehensive assessment combined quantitative and qualitative analysis of more than 600 case studies.

It also noted that watershed projects enhance rural incomes by 58% and agricultural productivity by 35%. There remains, however, scope for further improvement, the analysis said.

Additional secretary in the agriculture ministry, N K Das, who was also present on the occasion, emphasised the huge potential of improved watershed projects to enhance agricultural productivity.

“Watershed programmes can indeed ensure food security and add to the sustainability of natural resources when these projects are executed based on scientific knowledge and with the participation of the rural population," Das said.

ICRISAT released the final report of the Comprehensive Assessment at the workshop for the implementation of watershed projects.

ICRISAT and partners propose to integrate activities and projects that focus on the livelihoods of the rural population, especially marginalised groups and landless, in watershed programmes.

Scientific institutes that provide the knowledge on agriculture, livestock and water management should support this convergence, the assessment said.

It further suggested continuous capacity building measures in order to hand over the responsibility of the watersheds to the main stakeholders the rural population, and thus guarantee the sustainability of watershed interventions.