CEE is implementing the project ‘Jalsetu’ in Gujarat state. It is a climate project funded by Hanns Seidel Foundation (HSS) and was initiated in 2016. The project is founded on the premise that empowering women, especially those who are in governance, can go a long way in effectively addressing one of the most pressing challenges of our time - climate change and its impact on rural water security. The project therefore focuses on empowering women elected representatives (WERs) towards addressing issues of rural water security. During the first year (2016), the project was implemented in 10 villages of Gujarat divided into two clusters: Halvad Cluster and Jasdan Cluster. During the second year (2017), 10 more villages were added - five in each cluster, thus covering 20 villages in total.

Building further on the awareness and capacity building base achieved in the previous year of 2016, the project in the current year focused on vertical expansion of activities as well as horizontal spread in the project area. Some of the key activities during the year include capacity building of Jaldoots (water communicators) in geo-hydrology, various technological demonstrations, awareness programmes at the community and school levels, exposure tour and training of PRI (Panchayati Raj Institutions) members. Towards the end of the year, activities like workshop with NGOs and a state level workshop helped in reaching out to a wider audience and creating linkages with other stakeholders working in the water sector.

Capacity Building of WERs & Jaldoots

WERs being the main stakeholders for the project, two training programmes were organised specifically targeting the WERs and women SHG leaders from the project villages with about 100 participants. This three day training empowered them with information on various government programmes related to water resource management and ways to take advantage of them. It also introduced them to the concept and importance of watershed management as well as various water harvesting structures such as check dam, farm ponds, etc. The training helped motivate them to participate more actively in the governance process.

Jaldoots are an important link in the project as they act as the support mechanism for the PRIs by helping them address water issues. Their major role is to identify appropriate water harvesting structures based on local geology and act as barefoot water resource managers. Five youth from each village have been selected as Jaldoots and a three day training programme organised for 50 of them.

Exposure Tour

To enable behaviour change - whether it is taking tangible action such as adopting a different technology or practice, or bringing in intangible change such as effective mechanisms of governance or strengthening the role of people’s institutions for more transparent and efficient implementation - peer learning and exposure to best practice models is one of the most effective methodology. Keeping this in mind, during the year, a group of participants comprising WERs, other PRI members, SHG members, farmers, Jaldoots and other interested community members was taken on a four day exposure tour to areas where the best water resource management models are seen. These included visits to (i) WOTR (Watershed Organisation Trust), (ii) Ralegan Siddhi to see the exemplary work done by Anna Hazare, and (iii) Hiware Bazar to understand the concept of water budgeting in practice and were a highly inspirational learning experience for the participants.

Community Awareness Programmes

Several community and school awareness programmes were conducted as part of the project with a view to enhance awareness of the community members on sustainability.

Jalmelo (Water technology fair) The concept of Jalmelo was an inspiration from the traditional fairs which are very popular among the rural communities in the Saurashtra region of Gujarat, where the project is functioning. In this event, various water-related technology models were displayed, a water exhibition was held, and activities for children were conducted. Government departments were also invited to provide information about their various schemes and programmes. This day long cluster level event attracted about 450 participants.

Folk media for awareness creation: In all the project villages of both the clusters, folk media such as theatre, puppets and "Bhavai" which is a traditional dance form, were used very effectively to convey messages on water conservation. Folk performances were organised in late evenings during winter, which attracted large audiences. The professional folk artists conveyed water related messages using humour and sarcasm to question the water consumption habits of people and to motivate them to adopt efficient water consumption practices at domestic and work levels.

Puppet shows were organised in all the schools to highlight water related issues like water wastage and water quality to create awareness among children.

Technology Demonstrations

CEE's experience shows that demonstration is the best tool to introduce a new technology or practice to farmers and the village community as a whole. During the year, several technological demonstrations addressing a wide range of issues were set up at the individual and community levels, as part of the project. These include gabion check dams, underwater dyke, farm pond, ferro-cement storage tanks, rain water harvesting system, drip, solar pumps, bore-well recharge, village pond with lining, arch dam using ferro-cement technology and others. These demonstrations have covered a large number of community members as direct beneficiaries, while also inspiring other community members and other villages to adopt similar technologies.

Networking and Outreach

Apart from the village, community and WERs who are the direct stakeholders, CEE also organised two outreach and networking events in order to enhance the replicability of the model as well as to incorporate learnings and knowledge from other experts. A two-day district level NGO training and capacity building workshop on water-climate and livelihood issues was organised at Rajkot where NGOs working in the water sector were invited to participate from both the clusters. A one-day state level conference was organised in which leading water sector experts from the academics, practitioners and policy domain were invited as panellists and discussants. The workshop served as an interface between the three domains and was widely appreciated.