Community-Based Groundwater Management in Andhra Pradesh, India
Increasing concern surrounds groundwater management throughout South Asia. The Green Revolution that emanated from the 1960s intensified agricultural practices in India has led to the overexploitation of groundwater in many districts. The management of groundwater in these places is increasingly complex due to the many stakeholders that utilise a resource that is largely hidden from view. This complexity is further compounded when the various physical and social aspects surrounding groundwater are considered. Hydrogeological and climatic factors influence the availability, capacity and recharge of the groundwater, all of which can vary substantially over an area at various scales. Further, social aspects relating to access, equality and the power structures within the Indian context of this research all add further dimensions that need to be considered in the management of the groundwater resource. The southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh forms the focus for this study through which a community based approach to management is explored. The Andhra Pradesh Farmer Managed Groundwater Systems (APFAMGS) project was investigated as a means through which insight into this community based approach was gained. The project aimed to demystify the science of groundwater management and disseminate knowledge to farmers surrounding sustainable agricultural practices in drought prone areas of Andhra Pradesh. Utilising both qualitative and quantitative research approaches the project was investigated over three such districts involving four NGOs and approximately 140 farmers. The analysis undertaken suggests that the APFAMGS project has been largely successful, with farmers citing the increased knowledge and skills in water measurement and management, crop rotations and appropriate fertiliser use as major benefits that they had gained through their participation. As it is the farmers themselves that undertake the monitoring, participants in this project have an enhanced understanding of the resource in comparison to those who have merely been told about the state of groundwater. The majority of farmers who have bore wells reported that they engaged in the monitoring of the groundwater level, with most conducting this twice a month. With this increased understanding of the groundwater resource within their area, farmers could effectively grow crops according to the irrigation capacity of the resource and plan their farming regime accordingly. It was therefore evident that the project promoted good farming techniques as well as water management with many farmers stating that after the project they have enough water to grow their crops and enjoy greater security over their investments. The involvement of NGOs in projects such as APFAMGS was cited as significant for their success by building rapport with participants, delivering expert input and initiating links between communities and other organisations. Likewise, and particularly in the early stages of implementation, local leadership was identified as a significant factor for success. The sharing of groundwater through community-owned bore wells and the selling of groundwater were also identified as important and this thesis highlights the equality issues associated with such initiatives in the highly stratified social contexts of rural Andhra Pradesh. Overall, this research explores these agro-ecological, social and economic issues associated with the management of groundwater and provides insight into the effectiveness of a community-based collaborative approach.
Advisor: Hill, Doug
Degree Name: Master of Planning
Degree Discipline: Geography
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: Groundwater; Groundwater Management; Andhra Pradesh; India; Community-Based; Community
Research Type: Thesis