• ITC's Watershed Development Programme - Improving
    Water Resource Management to over 16 Lakh acres

The Indian Context

Water resource management is one of the most critical challenges facing the planet, especially for countries like India where agriculture is the livelihood for a major proportion of the population. Most are small farmers who depend on the yearly monsoon to grow crops. Volatile weather as a result of climate change is simply adding to their heavy burden - poor soils, lack of access to information and technology, inadequate infrastructure, inability to get credit from formal channels - keep these farmers trapped in poverty and they are among India's poorest, most vulnerable communities.

ITC's Contribution

Focusing on such farmers, ITC's Watershed Development Programme mobilises them to form water user groups and assists them to plan and carry out interventions such as building micro water harvesting structures to store water, taking various measures to reduce soil erosion, etc.

With water available for irrigation and improved soil fertility, farming is less exposed to weather risks and farmers can grow more than one crop in the year of better quantity and quality, significantly raising their incomes. Equipped with knowledge and training, working together as groups, farmers can take informed decisions towards making agriculture more secure for the future.

ITC's Watershed Development Programme

A collaborative model supporting community action to manage local water resources

Water User Groups


Primary Beneficiaries, Key Decision-makers, Financial Contributors



Project Implementation, Domain Expertise, Local Experience

Academic / Technical


Research & Best Practices, Appropriate Technology



Facilitator, Programme Design, Funding, Monitoring & Evaluation

State Governments


Collaborators in Public-Private-Partnerships

Strategies and Key Interventions
  • Mobilising community action to conserve and manage local resources
  • Forming Water User Groups

    Forming Water User Groups

    Mobilisation process geared towards ensuring inclusion of disadvantaged community members - mainly poor farmers and women

    Group decision making helps to ensure interventions are located for optimum benefit and resources are shared equitably

    Working together also means poor households can pool resources to gain greater benefits, e.g. to bargain for better prices to purchase higher quality agri-inputs and access farm equipment that may be otherwise be beyond their means as individuals

    Dynamic Groups are community institutions that can take charge of their local resources and act for the benefit of their communities, moving away from dependence on external agencies

  • Building grassroots capacity so that communities can manage resources equitably and sustainably
  • Comprehensive training for all Water User Groups

    Comprehensive training for all Water User Groups

    Groups are trained to take all key decisions and monitor all activities

    Training covers:

    - watershed management techniques
    - documentation, accounting, financial management, conflict resolution
    - deciding regulations and user fees for water

    Training methods include workshops, practical demonstrations, learning by doing, exposure visits to other sites

  • Model mechanisms to ensure long-term sustainability of project assets and benefits
  • Mandatory financial contribution from community

    Mandatory financial contribution from community

    Groups must contribute to the cost of the interventions - the proportion depends on their economic conditions

    Financial stake immediately creates a strong sense of ownership, especially for marginal households who must decide carefully on how to spend their meagre resources

    Maintenance Fund for each Group

    Maintenance Fund for each Group

    Built up from charges for using water from structures built by the Group

    Used to maintain water harvesting structures and other constructions, e.g. trenches and bunds, and to build new structures

    Also used to fund other community assets and to provide emergency loans to Group members so they can avoid money lenders

    Fund expands Group's decision making ability as they can make and finance long term plans, helping them to step away from a hand-to-mouth existence

    Methodology: Traditional + Modern, Simple + Low-cost

    Methodology: Traditional + Modern, Simple + Low-cost

    Focus is on using traditional methods combined with appropriate modern techniques, relying on simple technology and locally available materials to carry out measures and build structures that are location-specific and low-cost.

    Makes the project model flexible and easy to replicate in any location/geography

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