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We have always believed that man may come or go, mighty empires may fall, battles may be lost, flourishing civilizations may disappear and mighty earthquakes may destroy us all but the land that grows our food and the water and air that sustain us will go on forever. This is a false belief. Conservation of our natural resources is the need of the hour. If nature is thoughtlessly and mercilessly exploited, the day is not far when there will be nothing left to exploit at all.As life on eRepresentative Wateshed in Tamil Naduarth depends on land, water and air for survival, utilization of these cannot stop altogether. The focus should be on optimal exploitation and sustainable development.


If future generations are to live and prosper, they will need these resources as much as we do today. It is our duty to leave nature as we found it, if we cannot improve it.

The Problem

 Severs erosion in RajasthanLand, the backbone of our survival is being degraded at an alarming speed. Precious nutrient rich topsoil is washed away into the sea. Indiscriminate felling of trees, unsuitable farming practices and too short a time for regeneration complicate an already grave situation.

Water so vital to life comes packaged with disease causing germs and sometimes not at all. These have been stumbling blocks to development and no less in the basic quality of life. As groundwater recharge limps on weak legs, water tables reach record levels of low and land becomes alkaline and saline and unproductive - the beginning of a vicious circle.

The Genesis of the Project

The gravity of the situation was recognized by the Government, NGOs and concerned alike, but their efforts often lacked continuity and direction. Generally, all activity came to a standstill once outside inputs were withdrawn.

Under its various developmental schemes, the Government of India was carrying out erosion control activities but without obtaining the desired results. This led the Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India to seek technical assistance from the Government of Germany in hydrological monitoring and erosion control methods. The Indo-German Bilateral Project "Watershed Management" became a reality in 1990. While the initial focus was on hydrological monitoring, it soon spread its fledging wings to become a full-fledged watershed management project in 1992.

Organizational Setup

The Indo-German Bilateral Project "Watershed Management" is a collaboration of the Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India and the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. The Project is implemented by RODECO Consulting, Germany, on behalf of the German Agency for Technical Cooperation (GTZ). In each of the Representative Watersheds (RWSs) the Project works with a State Government Department identified by the Ministry of Agriculture and a local NGO. The Department focuses its efforts on soil and water conservation activities while the NGO works towards strengthening community-based organizations and improving livelihood of the people.


These focus on:
1. Watershed management - a comprehensive package for natural resources management and the improvement of livelihood conditions for the people. Soil and water conservation is carried out through the construction of physical structures, promoting plantations and forestry and encouraging right farming practices.
Poverty alleviation is effected through various income generation schemes and formation of self-help groups. The formation of community-based organizations ensures involvement and participation of the local people in project activities. Exposure visits and communication packages are aimed at raising awareness on natural resources management issues.

2. Hydrological monitoring - through a network of Silt Monitoring Stations (SMSs) in treated and control watersheds remains another thrust area. The monitoring of impact of different activities in the watersheds has gained importance in recent years.

3. Training for senior and junior level officers of the State Government Departments in soil and water conservation and hydrological monitoring is undertaken. A number of workshops on different aspects of watershed management have also been organized by the Project.

Target Groups

The poor and the rural landless are targeted for the poverty alleviation initiatives as they are likely to put the greatest pressure on the natural resources. Improving the working conditions of women, promoting greater economic independence among them through income generation activities and thrift and credit societies and enabling their participation in the watershed committees, are major concerns.


As natural resource management and improvement are key concerns, successful implementation of project activities will result in an invigorated natural environment and a better life for the people, with maximum benefit to the poorest of the poor.

In the Representative Watershed Programme, people are involved right from the stage of planning to ensure their participation and involvement. In each watershed, there is an emphasis on the formation of community-based organizations that will takeover and maintain all activities after project withdrawal. This ensures sustainability. Furthermore, the Project develops procedures, protocols and guiding principles for the government departments from lessons learned during the course of the project for nationwide replication at a later date.











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