This month ACIAR’s Land and Water Resources program manager, Dr Evan Christen, visited the eastern Indo Gangetic Plains (IGP) region in northern India to scope the scene for an upcoming research project. He says the region faces many challenges, but there is hope for improving the livelihoods of the local people, particularly woman, through better water management...
The people of the eastern IGP in northern India are amongst the poorest of the poor. This area of the world seems to have been left behind in the trajectory of India. 300 million people live well below the poverty line in a climate that seriously constrains their chances to earn an income for the basics of life.
|Villagers' huts, with mud caked on walls to |
prevent flood damage
|Dr's Fraser Sugden and Evan Christen |
talking with local farmers
(pictured at left), who hand pumps water for a grueling 5 hours each day, to water his plants growing on a tiny parcel of land. I calculated that after all his efforts he only earns about $150 a year from his produce. He said he would love to have a powered pump, but fuel is too expensive and the electrical supply is inadequate.
I also met an elderly woman farmer (pictured at right) who was growing cucurbits (melons), having been provided with a water pump and training from a non-government organisation. She was doing well enough to have replaced the cumbersome treadle pump with a mechanised one, which made life a bit easier. Some of the other women I met were growing tomatoes, and selling sauce from their produce at the local markets.
Armed with this experience and continuing collaboration with in-country agencies, ACIAR will be supporting research in the eastern Gangetic plain. The research will particularly target women-headed households (about 50% of the households in the region). The aims will be to reduce the drudgery of getting water, to increase time available to do other things, and to provide water as a reliable source to help produce incomes and ultimately improve livelihoods.
By Dr Evan Christen, ACIAR's Land & Water Resources (LWR) program manager
ACIAR's Land and Water Resources program research in India
ACIAR's medium-term strategy for India and Nepal
Watch a video about water issues in the eastern IGP, from the International Water Management Institute