Twoandahalfweeks in India – WOTR: a successful watershed development program


“The WOTR, the Watershed Organisation Trust, has over years entered diverse sectors and grown institutionally and geographically. Headquartered in Pune, WOTR has a physical presence in 7 states ( Maharashtra, Andra Pradesh, Mafhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh and Orissa). Their aim is to support a large scale multi-actor, multi-level, multi-sectoral, community led watershed development program for poverty was launched by Fr. Herman Bacher, a man that today has more than 90 years.”
That's what we basically knew before joining the two villages, Purushwadi and Shisvad.
From an agriculture and social standpoint we are very surprised what has been reached so far.
The entire village – more than hundred families – had to decide right from the beginning if they wanted to participate in this program. And they started with a pilot field by trying out whether the new way of cultivating, water dams etc. would work and show better cropping results. Only when this pilot was successful and it was clear that the tribal people could see the difference and wanted to continue, the main project started.
We walkedwith WOTR along the fields, got many detail information and could ask many questions. What they do to get more water on the fields also in the dry period, what they plant, how they get the program running.

How do make such a project run

One of the questions was how did they start, how did they gain the peoples’ trust.
The answer was that the project had to be developed together with the community. Based on listening to the people, on asking many question about their way of life. And to integrate and accept them as an equal partner in the whole process – right from the very early beginning.

The problem is the implementation
People need to understand why they should build eg. dams, why they do get a meteorologic station, why women meeting are introduced. The best is if they develop these ideas further during their farmer and women meetings, start asking for solutions and take over huge part of the responsibility.
The implementation start is the hardest. It is necessary to make the success visible and touchable. Then also still hesitant village people will be convinced and close villages start to ask how they manage it.

One chart I personally liked a lot was the one that shows how the day cycle from men, women, children (school age) and old people looks.
It makes immediately clear that if women are on the fields from 11 to 5pm they would not start cooking with a solar cooker when the sun is the best. That women meetings have to take place in the hour where women have free time ….and so on.
Things that often are forgotten when governmental aid arrives – and often is limited to a short- term success only.

However, you might not understand the chart very well due to the language, but you see the hours and the single circles of the four groups (men, women, children, old people)? (See picture.)

Who do you think has the longest working day?

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