Micro Water Management -The Concept, Methods of Intervention And Experience at NBTDP.

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A Report on

Micro Water Management –

The Concept, Methods of Intervention

And Experience at NBTDP


Professor S. B. Roy, Chairman

IBRAD, Calcutta


        The last half of the 20th century was characterised by unprecedented changes and irreversible trends in natural, technological, social, economic and political factors that have affected human life in radical ways. This when combined with population explosion, urbanisation, industrialisation and economic development exerted high pressure and demand on natural resources, most notably on water resources. We need to have an efficient and effective management of our water resource as its demand has increased with the rise in the population growth and the rise in pollution. Firstly comes the policy support and legislation of the country, the attitude and capacity of the state, the local bodies and the local self government to operationalise the rational use of water. Different stakeholders are involved in the different aspects of the water management like that of irrigation, domestic and industrial supply, flood control and so on. Secondly, the interrelationship between the land and water should be viewed as SYSTEM and water as part of the planning process. Thirdly, research and development programmes need to be undertaken on a range of activities like that of water conservation, water quality management, pollution control, water recovery, reuse and recycling and above all the social institutions which influences and CONDITIONS human perception and behaviour both at the community level and Bureaucratic level.

        There is a definite pattern of flow and usages of water. This pattern has a definite configuration of relationships. It also has physical structure and some set of activities which forms system. Whether water will be considered as a resource and can be used on sustainable basis depends on the pattern of existence water bodies and usages of water by the human society.

        There are different types of water sources which are parts of the water system. These different sources of water are sub systems of the broader water system. They are acting as parts of the system and are interconnected and interdependent. Survival, availability and function of one water source depends upon other. They have set of relationships.

        One also has to keep in mind that people cannot act in vacuum. Each and every behaviour, interaction, activities and thought of the people are influenced by the social system. Even the most private and personal action which involves the most secret thoughts and feelings obeys the common and collective external rules.

        Usages of water depend upon the existing human institutions. The rules and regulations developed and followed by the society to use the water and the control mechanisms developed to check indiscriminate use of water, decide whether human being can get the water resource on a sustainable basis or not. It is important to note that only knowledge about water does not help to achieve judicious use of water. The question is how the knowledge helps in developing the positive attitude and translating it into action through the cultural behaviour.

        The question now arises as to how must these be undertaken to ensure a more effective management of our water resource system as institution.

The biological privilege of humans makes the aggregation of individuals a necessity in life. Humans have the best coordination of body and mind, and their brains are the most developed among all living creatures. Therefore, they not only adapt themselves to nature but can also mould nature most successfully for their benefit. But they are able to undertake this task only by forming various kinds of groupings, and not isolatedly. Hence one has to understand the process of Group Formation and institutions that binds people together towards common goal – say in this case Micro Water Management.

        The individuals form various kinds of groupings by combining themselves in different ways at the same time. The functions of these groups can be the same, allied, complementary or contradictory. However, as the formation of groups is not a matter of chance, there must be a purpose behind it. That purpose is displayed in diverse ways by the form and the function of the groups. Therefore, the central issues for understanding society are : (i) why the individuals form groups at all, (ii) why different kinds of groups are formed with variable functions, and (iii) what is the relative importance of different kinds of groups and their variable functions for meeting the goal of humankind. Keeping this in mind the group for Micro Water Management was found using SICO (Self Initiated Community Organiser) as leader.

What is SICO? – Hypotheses regarding SICO’s Effectivity

1.        In human society people form a group, interact with each other and are motivated to share their feelings with like-minded persons.

2.        No one would like to work or live in isolation ignoring cultural and political ethos even for pursuing their economic activities. Hence, one has to understand the context and the process by which people get organised to apprehend the outer world while at the same time maintaining the internal consistency.

3.        People whisper in peer groups about the new experiences or new information. Therefore, if there are a number of individuals who can give direction to the whispering group from subjective to objective notions having a common goal, the new order will take place in the shortest possible time. It may be mentioned here that the impact of changing from subjective to objective may be negative or positive.

  1. There are different interest groups with variable functions and their specificities  do matter and should be kept in mind.

Thus people can be mobilized  by change agents.

People will not work in isolation.

People love to form groups.

People are motivated to share with like-minded persons.

People change their perception from subjective to objective if a common goal is set.

        Keeping in mind the hypotheses that one has to identify a few persons from the society whose attitude can easily be changed towards a common goal such that there are emboldened to come forward in a crowd for serving a cause. Such  persons by nature are bold enough to talk in public and value social work & are eager to spend time for socially relevant activities. In a crowd if ten individuals come forward to form a group. It will become a strong network and the group would gradually replicate and expand. Such volunteers are known as Self-Initiated Community Organisers (SICO). Irrespective of age, sex, educational qualification and social status the SICO acts as opinion mobiliser. Once such SICOs are identified a cohesive group may be formed. Such a group will next set their own norms.

        Once a group is formed, the members would be trained for the different activities. Based on their response to the training the bond between the members would be strengthened.

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        The issues should be examined by proceeding from the basic necessity of humans to form groups and organize them into society, as identified at various levels of consolidating the groups. The necessity stems, first, from the biological obligation of the human species. Humans, among perhaps all living creatures, have long periods of childhood and old age, two stages in life when they are obliged to depend on others. Therefore, family is a primordial human group, associated with many involuntary groupings of larger dimensions and variable content, to which an individual is affiliated at birth: kinship, clan, tribe, caste, ethnicity, ...

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