Consultation on

“Strategies for Managing Droughts-Need for Aligning Science and Public Policy”  3rd June 2016

SPWD is a national NGO which has spearheaded many important debates on natural resources, their use and conservation in India for over three decades.  We are headquartered in New Delhi with two field offices in Udaipur and Ranchi ( Dr. I. P. Abrol is one of SPWD’s founders and also the present Chairman of the Society.

As you are aware, large parts of India have been affected by drought which has severely hit regions in Karnataka, Telangana, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana.

Drought being a complex pervasive natural hazard, produces a large number of socio-economic impacts as water is integral to producing goods and providing a range of services. These impacts arise from the interaction between natural conditions and human factors such as changes in land-use, land cover, water demand and water use. Excessive water withdrawals exacerbate the impact of drought.

There is growing evidence that the frequency and extent of droughts has increased as a result of global warming and there has been a general tendency towards decreased precipitation in the semi-arid regions. The semi-arid river basins in India are the most vulnerable with respect to water stress. An increase in irrigation water withdrawals of 14 percent is foreseen by FAO by 2030 in developing countries. If precipitation decreases, irrigation water demands, which dominate water use in most semi-arid river basins, would increase and it may become virtually impossible to satisfy all water demands.

Response to droughts in India, as in most parts of the world is generally reactive responding to the situation after impacts have occurred. This crisis management approach does not address the underlying causes for the vulnerabilities associated with the impacts.  Despite the repeated occurrences of droughts throughout history, concerted efforts to initiate a dialogue on formulation and adoption of policy measures to combat droughts are lacking.  This has meant that governments at the national and state level continue with the status quo i.e. reacting to impacts of drought with little co-ordination between national, state, local agencies and communities.

To discuss some of these issues, SPWD , CSIR-NISTADS,Delhi Science Forum and the RRA Network has organised a day-long consultation on the subject “Strategies for Managing Droughts-Need for Aligning Science and Public Policy” on 3rd June 2016. The consultation was focused on how physical and social sciences can help influence public policy to achieve drought-proofing.

The venue for the consultation is CSIR-NISTADS, Dr. K. S. Krishnan Marg, Pusa Gate, New Delhi -110012.

The consultation aimed to identify and agree upon pro-active actions needed at present and in the future to cope with droughts and their impacts. Following presentations were made during the consultation:

  1. About the Consultation: I. P. Abrol, Chairman, SPWD

  1. Inaugural Address: P. Goswami, Director, CSIR-NISTADS

  2. Farmer’s Perspectives on Drought: Shri Govardhan, Shri Prakash,

  1. Aligning Science and Policy- The Major Questions: Rajeswari S. Raina, CSI R-NISTADS

  1. Knowledge, Science and Technology in Drought Management: P.S. Vijayshankar, Director, Research SPS

  1. Role of Soil & Water Conservation Technologies in Drought Proofing: A. Sarangi, IARI

  1. The Science of Monitoring Droughts: Vinay Kumar Sehgal, IARI

  1. Genetic Approaches to Drought Adaptation: Som Marla,NBPGR

  1. Water management in Fragmented Landholdings: Rana Pratap Singh BBA University

  1. Some issues in India’s  Drought Management: Amita Bhaduri Dr. Jagdish K. Purohit, SPWD


Earlier Events:


Making Small Holder Farming Sustainably Viable

24th -25th February 2016

SPWD organized a workshop with NABARD support in New Delhi on February 24-25, 2016. The theme of the workshop was ‘Making Small Holder Farming Sustainably Viable’. As we know large percentage of India’s farmland is with small holders. The small holders eke out their livelihood by cultivating their small holdings, rearing livestock utilizing common lands and common water resources, in conjunction with income from tree produce and from wage labour. Even though productivity of small holdings is more in comparison to large holdings still the productivity per capita is very low. On the whole the farm productivity in India is much lower than the potential. The low productivity is partially because of poor natural resource conditions and partly because of inadequate knowledge base and other required resources. Thus small holders are constrained to live in poor conditions. Climate change has made matters worse forcing millions of farmers to struggle to maintain their yields amid crop damage from severe droughts or flash floods, with no assets in reserve to help them bounce back from a crisis.

Farming has always traditionally been a knowledge-based activity with farmers knowing best to utilize its resources under varied obtained conditions learnt over history. The advance in agriculture sciences and technology has brought certain changes in farmers agriculture practices which have improved farm productivity. The technologies give the best result under conditions for which these were developed. Those conditions can not be obtained everywhere. Since technologies have not been developed contextualizing various local conditions and with long term sustainability in view, there has been a partial uptake of these technologies which at times has done more harm than good.

The question for all those individuals/institutions who want to improve conditions pertaining to farming and farm community is what changes need to be brought in their functioning/focus area amongst network of support organizations so as to increase the farm productivity and farm income sustainably by coevolving extensively context specific appropriate knowledge and community institutions?

The workshop was an attempt to find answers to some of these questions and will help define the scope of SPWD’s work in the coming years. Deliberations were made on following broad areas  during the workshop-

  1. Experiences on Integrated Farming Systems Approach – Shri Hardeep Singh & Shri Sharat Singh – SPWD
  2. Mainstreaming Climate Change Adaptation into Development Planning of India – Sh.. Anand Kumar, Development Alternatives, New Delhi
  3. DHAN Experience on Rainfed Agriculture and Millets -Shri Karthikeyan Muniappan, Programme Leader, DHAN Foundation
  4. Adoption of Conservation Agriculture in Central India – Shri Navin Patidar, AKRSP, Ahmedabad
  5. Mountain Agriculture and Resilience to Climate Change – Dr. Sarala Khaling, ATREE, Darjeeling
  6. Framework for a National Rainfed Farming Systems Programme – Dr. A. Ravindra, Director, Watershed Support Services and Activities Network, Secunderabad
  7. Technical Backstopping to PRIs for Planning, Implementation and Management of Development Programmes and Flagship Schemes for Sustainable Natural Resource Management – Dr. Jagdish K. Purohit  and Shri Pran Ranjan – SPWD
  8. Integrating Adaptation to Climate Change into Sectoral Policy Decisions and Rural Development Programmes -Shri Rajeev Ahal – National Coordinator, MGNREGA-Environmental Benefits Project, GIZ, New Delhi
  9. Multi-pronged Strategy for better Convergence between Government Programmes for NRM and Livelihoods – the case of Jharkhand – Dr. Ramesh Sharan, Ranchi University
  10. Tackling water salinity in Mewat, Haryana – Dr. Lalit Mohan Sharma, Sehgal Foundation, Gurgaon
  11. Issues related to promoting Integrated Water Resources Management in India – Dr. Veena Khanduri, Global Water Partnership (India), Gurgaon
  12. Income Enhancement through Agriculture and Horticulture Value Chain – Sh. Padam Jain & Sh. Prasanna Khemaria, SRIJAN India