- Describe the concept of watershed management.
- Highlight importance.
- Discuss the Challenges.
Geographically, a watershed is an area where all water flowing into it goes to a common outlet. However, it is not merely a hydrological unit but also a socio-political-ecological entity as both the natural as well as human resources constitute an integral part. Watershed management refers to efficient management, conservation, regeneration and judicious use of all resources – natural (like land, water, plants and animals) and human, within a watershed.
Watershed management is a comprehensive approach towards sustainable development of land and water resources in order to meet multiple objectives like poverty reduction, ecological conservation, land productivity enhancement, etc.
Importance of Watershed Management:
About 60% of the total arable area in the country is rainfed. These areas are hotspots of poverty, malnutrition, food insecurity, are prone to severe land degradation, water stress and have poor social and institutional infrastructure. Watershed development is considered as an effective tool for addressing many of these problems and is recognized as potential engine for agriculture growth and development in fragile and marginal rain-fed areas. Management of natural resources at watershed scale produces multiple benefits in terms of increasing food production, improving livelihoods and protecting environment.
- Improvement and conservation of land and water resources in a watershed for more efficient and sustained production.
- Checks soil erosion and reduce the effect of sediment yield on the watershed.
- Increases infiltration of rainwater and enhances the ground water recharge.
- Builds resilience to floods as well as droughts.
- Enhances development of alternative livelihood sources like livestock production and dairy farming.
- Supplements household income.
Kothapally Watershed in Andhra Pradesh, which lies in the Musi sub-basin of the Krishna basin in Ranga Reddy district, is an example of successful watershed management.
Challenges/limitations in Watershed Management programmes in India:
- Equitable sharing of benefits: The area development programs offer benefits primarily to landowners, with landless and marginal farmers often benefit only marginally or not at all.
- Common lands do not get adequately treated.
- Gains from recharge of groundwater are rapidly dissipated through increased withdrawal. Domestic, livestock and ecosystem water needs often do not get adequately addressed.
- Downstream impacts of intensive upstream water conservation are not being considered.
- Costs at which the gains are achieved are considered to be high.
- People’s participation is limited to the watershed project implementation stage.
- No/little building of institutions for long-term collective management of resources.