ICIMOD and partners launch project on community-based water use planning


ICIMOD hosted a workshop to launch the project ‘Reviving springs and providing access to solar powered irrigation pumps (SPIP) through community-based water use planning’ from 18 to 20 February 2015. The two-year project is funded by the CGIAR research programme on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE) under its Ganges Focal Region project. The project is led by ICIMOD in partnership with Helvetas (Nepal), ACWADAM (India), Atom Solar (India), and researchers from George Washington University and Harvard University

The workshop aimed to explain how the concept of water use master plan (WUMP) would contribute to reviving springs and piloting SPIP in Nepal and India, as well as to share some of the spring revival work done by ICIMOD and Nepal Water Conservation Foundation (NWCF) in 2014. There were five sessions spread across three days.  The first session announced the formal launch of the project. The WLE programme on reviving springs and promoting SPIP will carry out impactful research to improve policy and the livelihoods of people in the mid-hills and the Terai region of Nepal. While implementing the project, special attention will be paid to women to ensure that they are included in the local planning process, revival of springs and piloting of solar pumps.   

The second session was on WUMP and its use in reviving springs and piloting solar pumps. WUMP is a participatory bottom-up approach used by Helvetas and its partners for comprehensive mapping of all water resources followed by an investment prioritization activity by the same community. Bottom-up water resource planning methods like that of WUMP can play an important role in spring revival activities in the mid hills of Nepal and in India. Similarly, implementation of SPIP can benefit from such local level water use planning and buy-in by local governments. 

In the third session the focus was on spring revival activities. ACWADAM has been promoting spring revival through an integrated approach, with spring shed as the implementing unit. Socioeconomic and possible changes in rainfall pattern have led to drying up of springs. Community awareness and involvement, especially through the active participation of women, is essential to promote a culture of conservation. Spring revival has not yet received the kind of policy attention it deserves. A decentralized framework with synergies across various sectors and community participation is required for spring shed development.   

The fourth and fifth sessions were on SPIP. A major challenge for adoption of SPIP is the high upfront cost. Bangladesh has followed a grant and equity model. In India, states offer high subsidy for the systems. Nepal is yet to finalize a SPIP policy but the Alternative Energy Promotion Centre and the Department of Irrigation are keen to promote the technology. An innovative model, Solar Power as a Remunerative Crop (SPaRC), was introduced. Practitioners and companies from Bangladesh, India and Nepal presented various case studies and discussed the challenges and opportunities in this sector. During group discussion, participants analysed various financial and institutional models for the pilot to be conducted in the Nepal Terai.