In October 1999, it will be one year since we organised the CSE Conference on Potential of
Water Harvesting: Traditions, Policies and Social Mobilisation. Since then, we have
succeeded in implementing some of the recommendations. This has been with the full support
of members to the various committees appointed to carry forward our effort in
`peoples management of water.
To catch every drop of rain, we installed rainwater
harvesting structures in our office complex. To help President K.R. Narayanan harvest
water in Rashtrapati Bhawan, some of the recommendations of the advisory committee that
CSE formed for this purpose have been implemented. Future plans include a water budgeting
exercise for CSE and Rashtrapati Bhawan. This would give us an idea of how much of the
utilized water is replenished.
The National Water Harvesters Network (NWHN) is
firmly in place and efforts are on to spread the network to different parts of the
country, by starting branch networks. The Chennai branch unit of the NWHN is proceeding
full steam ahead on the agenda that has been decided by its steering committee. It
promises to serve as a model for other branch networks. Efforts are currently on to get
branch units going in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Mizoram.
Learning as we go along, we hope to have in place a network
as loosely structured as possible, catering to different needs in different regions, with
minimal institutional framework.
These branch networks have the important mandate of making
water everybodys business. This means that it is important that the steering
committee provide leadership and direction and take the programme forward by addressing
specific needs of the region and people. At some places this may mean starting from
scratch and creating awareness, at others it may involve evaluating the work already
executed in terms of effectiveness.
What is most heartening is the response we are getting from
individuals who want to be involved in water harvesting activities and from grassroots
workers. We have also received several requests for a hindi version of the newsletter. We
hope to fulfill this demand soon.
Schools are also evincing interest. We have been going out
to inform them on the need and use of water harvesting and the feedback is encouraging.
Schools now want rainwater harvesting systems installed. Some of them are even involving
students in a water budgeting exercise. Others are planning an exhibition on rainwater
A lot remains undone. Each branch network will need to
reach out to every grassroot organisation involved in water harvesting, and through these
groups, enter every household. Only then will the `networking be complete.