Despite being a water-abundant nation, millions in India are affected by the global water and sanitation crisis. Geographical constraints, poor management practices, and excessive reliance on groundwater contribute to a water crisis in the country, which poses a significant threat to agricultural productivity and livelihoods.
According to a report by the Central Groundwater Board (CGWB, 2021), India uses approximately two-thirds of the extractable groundwater. Over time, per capita water availability has declined from over 5,000 cubic meters per year during independence to 1,545 cubic meters, categorizing India as a water-stressed nation. Projections indicate that by 2025 and 2050, per capita water availability will decline to 1,341 and 1,140 cubic meters, respectively. Effective water management and governance are paramount for India to ensure a sustainable future.
Modern technology plays a crucial role in advancing rural development, and the emergence of digital technology has further expanded its scope. The integration of innovation is driving a transformative shift in sustainable development in water management, which helps us to understand how water management and technology are intertwined.
What Is The Role Of Technology In Water Management?
Technology empowers water managers, policymakers, and communities with valuable tools and insights to effectively address water-related challenges and ensure the sustainable management of this vital resource.
Data Collection and Analysis
Technology enables real-time collection of data on water quantity, quality, and usage through remote sensing, IoT devices, and sensor networks. This data helps calculate water availability, identify trends, and make informed decisions for efficient water management.
Water Supply and Distribution
Advanced technologies such as SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) systems, smart meters, and automation enable efficient monitoring and control of water supply networks. These technologies help reduce leaks, optimize water distribution, and ensure equitable access to water resources.
Water Treatment and Purification
Technologies such as advanced filtration systems, membrane technologies, and disinfection processes (i.e., UV and ozone treatment) help treat and purify water from various sources, making it safe for consumption and reducing the risk of waterborne diseases.
Technology aids in water conservation by developing efficient irrigation systems like drip irrigation and precision farming techniques. Additionally, water management software and modeling tools assist in optimizing water usage, reducing wastage, and promoting sustainable water practices.
Water Quality Monitoring
Technology plays a vital role in the continuous monitoring of water quality parameters. Sensors, drones, and remote sensing technologies enable the detection of pollutants, harmful algal blooms, and changes in water quality, ensuring timely remedial actions and safeguarding human and environmental health.
Flood and Drought Management
Advanced forecasting models, satellite imagery, and real-time monitoring systems help predict and manage floods and droughts. This enables early warning systems, effective emergency response, and optimal water allocation during such events.
Public Awareness and Engagement
Technology facilitates the dissemination of information, education, and awareness campaigns about water conservation and sustainable practices. Websites, mobile applications, and social media platforms help engage the public, promote behavioral changes, and foster community participation in water management initiatives.
So many tech advancements in this space alone! Is anyone benefiting from it?
Well, let’s find out.
How Does Water Management Affect Small Farmers?
Agriculture and development in India rely heavily on smallholder farmers, who constitute nearly 60 percent of the working population. These farmers are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change, necessitating the implementation of strategies for their long-term survival and welfare. Effective strategies for addressing this challenge, especially in arid and drought-prone regions, are water management and rainwater harvesting. Significantly positive impacts can be achieved on rural livelihoods by emphasizing water management and adaptation.
According to the Water Poverty Index concept (Sullivan, 2002), the following dimensions are crucial for water use in rural livelihoods:
- Access to Basic Water Services: Ensure reliable and convenient access to clean water for drinking, sanitation, and hygiene purposes.
- Crop and Livestock Water Security: Implement measures to enhance water availability and reliability for agricultural activities, including irrigation systems, efficient water use practices, and livestock water requirements.
- Clean and Healthy Water Environment: Promote protecting and preserving water resources, prevent pollution, and maintain the ecological balance of water bodies.
- Secure and Equitable Entitlements to Water: Establish fair and inclusive water governance mechanisms that allocate water resources equitably among different user groups and ensure the rights of marginalized communities.
The impacts of climate change on ecosystems have far-reaching consequences, including adverse effects on food security, public health, water resources, settlements, and infrastructure. Consequently, effective management of water resources is paramount for safeguarding the well-being of the farming community in India.
Since farmers significantly benefit from water management, the Indian government has launched initiatives with large budgets for several villages.
Initiatives By The Indian Government To Improve Water Management
1. National Water Policy: The government formulated the National Water Policy to guide the sustainable development, conservation, and management of water resources in India. The policy emphasizes efficient and equitable water use, promotes water conservation practices, and integrates water resource management with other sectors.
2. River Interlinking Project: The Indian government proposed the ambitious project of interlinking rivers to address regional water imbalances. This project transfers surplus water from water-rich regions to water-deficient regions, thereby improving water availability and reducing the impact of droughts and floods.
3. Jal Shakti Abhiyan: Launched in 2019, the Jal Shakti Abhiyan is a water conservation campaign focusing on water resource management, water conservation, and water-harvesting measures. It raises awareness about the importance of water and encourages local community participation in water management activities.
4. Atal Bhujal Yojana: This scheme was introduced to promote sustainable groundwater management and ensure the availability of groundwater resources for future generations. It emphasizes community participation, demand-side management, and efficient use of groundwater by implementing water management practices.
Is there also a rural development NGO working to improve India’s current water management scenario?
S M Sehgal Foundation
Agricultural development in India relies heavily on the contribution of small and marginal farmers. It is essential to ensure that these farmers receive fair compensation for their efforts and have access to meaningful employment opportunities. S M Sehgal Foundation, a reputable rural development NGO in India, has been dedicated to enhancing the quality of life in rural communities since 1999. Through the generous support of donors and partners worldwide, the foundation has successfully implemented grassroots programs and development initiatives that have positively impacted more than three million people across India. A key area of focus is water management, and the foundation’s experienced and qualified team has undertaken significant work in this field.
REJUVENATING A POND IN VILLAGE DHODHAKARI, BEHROR BLOCK, ALWAR DISTRICT, RAJASTHAN
In January 2021, under a CSR-supported project, S M Sehgal Foundation rejuvenated the pond in Dhodhakari village. As part of the project, the catchment area of the pond was increased, which led to its rejuvenation, desilting, and directing the water flow toward the pond. The rainwater began accumulating in the rejuvenated pond, and its capacity increased four times to 16.8 million liters. The water level of nearby wells for irrigating crops increased by ten to fifteen feet.
RECHARGE WELL IN GOVERNMENT SENIOR SECONDARY SCHOOL, KHERLA, SUPPORTED BY RIO TINTO INDIA PVT LTD
A recharge well cleared up the school’s waterlogging and improved the groundwater levels through recharge. Now students and staff can avoid waterlogging as the rainwater is filtered through the recharge well into the ground and helps recharge 1.5 million liters of water per year, solving two situations simultaneously through the recharge well.