February 25, 2005

2005: Comment # 4

A recent report strongly advocates community management of groundwater resources as a response to groundwater depletion. Shah wonders if that is the best way forward...

Community Management of Groundwater Resources

An Appropriate Response to Groundwater Overdraft in India?

Tushaar Shah

Based on Research by British Geological Survey, Institute for Social and Environment Transition, Overseas Development Institute, Advanced Centre for Water Resources Development and Management, Institute of Development Studies, Jaipur, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Water Technology Centre and Vikram Sarabhai Centre for Development Interaction

Groundwater irrigation has burgeoned into a colossal anarchy in South Asia. Direct legal and regulatory responses to this challenge have not worked at all. Indirect policy instruments such as electricity pricing and supply policies too have not been readily accepted. Research shows that community management (Comman) is also unlikely to work unless communities [a] find new, stronger threats to their long-term livelihood security from groundwater depletion; and [b] can 'seal' their portion of the aquifer so that they reap some reward for their discipline.

The Comman report builds a case for adaptive livelihood diversification as a response to increasing groundwater stress.

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