ICT in Integrated Watershed Management

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Ram Kumar, CEO, Gujarat State Watershed Management Agency

Gujarat has integrated technology and traditional wisdom to structure an effective and award-winning Watershed Development 

The Department of Rural Development has used ICT in a number of programmes for rural  development under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme  (MGNREGS). Some programmes are: scientific planning using GIS-based thematic maps,  eMuster, ePayment and Electronic Fund Management System, GPS enabled mobile-based monitoring, Mission Mangalam, SHG Mapping, Total Sanitation Campaign – GIS mapping of assets created, Watershed Programme – Scientific planning, Monitoring and Impact  Assessment using different tools, etc.

Background of IWMS

About 60 percent of net-sown area of India and 70 percent of Gujarat is under rain-fed agriculture which is a complex, diverse, underinvested, risky, vulnerable and distress-prone activity. It has been found that watershed management is the best option for integrated management of resources to alleviate poverty, hunger and distress. The idea is to conserve  and manage the entire catchment area of a drainage line through different mechanical and  vegetative measures to enhance sustainable livelihood with the help of effective use of  Information and Communication Technology (ICT).

The IWMS Programme received the National e-Governance award for the year 2010-11

Gujarat has created a Watershed Development Model that includes GIS based prioritisation  with a long term, scientific and need based holistic planning of each micro watershed unit  with a participatory approach integrating modern technology with traditional wisdom.  The Department has also ensured an institutional reconfiguration leading to establishment of separate dedicated state, district, projects and village watershed units providing e-connectivity at all levels. For the purpose of monitoring and evaluation and impact assessment, we use GIS tools.

The Department is using ICT tools effectively at different stages, incorporating historical development works in the watershed, GIS maps, satellite imagery, spatial and nonspatial data thematic maps, GPS, Hydrological Modeling, Web-GIS system, mobile-embedded tracking system, eGram, multi-temporal remote sensing, etc.

In order to maintain transparency and awareness across the board, the project report has been made available online and local language versions have also been shared with the Village Watershed Committees. The project has been made participatory and inclusive with the inclusion of the marginalized, landless and asset less, minority groups, women, and disadvantages sections with 9 of the livelihood funds earmarked for day-to-day decision making.

Monitoring, Evaluation and
Impact Assessment

The approach so far has been that of integrated monitoring and evaluation system.  Monitoring is conducted before, during, and post implementation with the help of web-based GIS system. We have ensured that the Village Watershed Committee has been updating the  database through the eGram centre periodically. It has also helped the project with specific  and timely corrective measures as and when intervention was required. We have summarised and created specialized reports for different hierarchies. The mobile-based tracking with the help of customized software as a part of the web based GIS has been quite an  instrumental in effective monitoring of the project. We also made a mandatory provision for  social audit in Gram Sabha.

Impact Assessment and Feedback Mechanism

Annual satellite images are used to assess the impact. Validation of physical status by independent assessors and output of the assessment will become input data for the next project. This would also be utilised for effective planning, documentation and development of knowledge base, research protocol, concurrent monitoring, Third Party Evaluation, provision for social audit, generation of dynamic maps integrated with mobile software to monitor the progress, quick and near-real time corrective measures, and scientific assessment with input application of remote sensing.

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