Increased Water Harvesting and Diminished Desertification

DHAN Foundation is implementing a three-year project ‘Increased Water Harvesting and Diminished Desertification’ in partnership with European Commission and Oxfam Novib, the Netherlands in five coastal districts of Tamil Nadu viz, Ramanathapuram, Tuticorin, Pudhukottai, Tanjore and Nagapattinam. Desertification in these districts is progressing in a fast track endangering the livelihoods of thousands of small and marginal farmers. This action–oriented project aims at contributing to increased food and environmental security in drought prone coastal areas of southern India, through conservation of traditional water bodies like tank and farm level ponds. The targeted groups of the action are marginalized small farmers’ and landless families. The project period is from January 2009 to December 2011.

The food security in southern India mainly depends upon the performance of the village level tanks and farm level ponds. The communities used to manage the tanks for collecting and distributing water throughout the year. Due to poor investments and breakdown of communal management the performance of these water bodies became dysfunctional and this leads to break down of land use and agriculture. All the actions through the project will rehabilitate and restore the water holding capacity of tanks thereby increasing the food security of poor and marginal farming families.

The project promotes community centric actions towards sustainable natural resources management, especially water and land resources. The stakeholders of this project are organized as farmers associations and Self Help Groups to function as a sound demand stream and act collectively towards conservation of these water bodies. The association promoted would exist on a long term basis and it will carry out future maintenance of water bodies.

The total number of direct beneficiaries is approximately 12500 families out of the targeted population of 75000. The total project cost is around Rs 60 million equivalents to 1 million Euros, of which 80 per cent is financed by the European Union. Oxfam Novib a partner of DHAN Foundation has supported several coastal projects of DHAN Foundation in the past.

Estimated Results of the project
  • Traditional water harvesting structures in the five selected districts are revived. Conserved and developed
  • Community based tank management associations are established that effectively manage the water harvesting structures
  • Increased income for small land holders in the five selected districts from better agriculture land use and additional income generating activities
  • Lessons learned and good practices are documented and disseminated to other stakeholders/interested practitioners working on tanks in South India and South Asia