So.. how do we go about managing our rural water then?
With just 4 percent of the world’s water but 17 percent of its population, India seems to be on the brink as far as water availability is concerned.
With Climate change and variability in weather and an unexpectedness with which water now shows up; things are only getting worse
This calls for smarter, more efficient ways of managing water.
Essentially; the need for water is in cities and in rural areas. if you come to think of it; It’s for drinking first and it’s for agriculture and other allied uses later.
In urban areas its more about availability in terms of quantity; but in rural areas it can be as much about life and death and about water quality as much as it is about mere availability.
Okay so lets try and put our mind on how the dynamics of rural water availability in India do work actually?
If we want to understand rural water provisioning, we have to understand the two sides of it i.e the supply side and the demand side. Critical to understand consumer patterns as well though.
Simple enough? easy to digest? doable? Well not so! Whats been plaguing us is an inherent lack of vision in implementing supply programs huge costs being made
Inefficiency and leakages in pipelines, inefficient management and upkeep of water sources like hand pumps, wells, lakes is not letting water to be used and capitalized upon well.
On the other; if managed by communities they have been seen to be managed far more efficiently.
Most government supply schemes have led to failed outcomes, and have had difficulties in sustaining.
For drinking water; The scenario gave birth to rural water enterprises as an alternative, but with an absence of standards, difficulty in covering capital and operating costs an other problems associated with these enterprises they have also been seemingly failing.
Water used for drinking and water used for agriculture has to be balanced. Better, more efficient agriculture practices that limit the use of water, stop it’s wastage, demand driven drinking water processes are things that may eventually help, but these need better and more accountable systems to be developed by the government at all levels, be it at a Panchayat, Block or District level!