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Water and Climate

Improved village scale groundwater recharge and management for agriculture and livelihood development in India

Project Code: LWR/2010/015
Research Program Manager: Dr. Robyn Johnston
Project Leader: Basant Maheshwari - Western Sydney University
SEP 2011
JUN 2017
Project Status: Concluded
Key partners
CSIRO Land and Water
Development Support Centre
International Water Management Institute
Maharana Pratap University of Agriculture and Technology
Vidhya Bhawan Krishi Vigyan Kendra


This project aimed to achieve sustainable groundwater use in India while linking it to livelihood opportunities for rural communities.

The future of agriculture and food security is linked to groundwater sustainability. The challenges here have important social, economic, institutional and policy elements.

60% of irrigation water for crop production and 80% of drinking water in India is sourced from groundwater supplies. It is a hidden resource and its available volume and movement is not well understood. Groundwater use has been unregulated in India because it is underground and its movement difficult to control. This, along with availability of pumps, has led to groundwater use far in excess of the annual recharge during monsoon season.

As a result, the average depth to watertable in many parts of India has changed from 10-15 metres during the 1960s to 30-40 metres. Sometimes farmers drill tubewells to a depth of 100 metres or more in search of water.

This project's research focused on two watersheds: the Dharta watershed in Rajasthan and the Meghraj watershed in Gujarat.​