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Watershed Management


WASSAN believes that participatory watershed management offers a package of solutions to several problems of communities that are dependent on natural resources and rain-fed agriculture, in a comprehensive manner. Participatory processes, institutions of local communities, appropriate technology choices including indigenous technical options; financial incentives are essential aspects of watershed management. Committed and capable development agencies have an important role in facilitating the above processes and enabling policy is a critical requirement.

 WASSAN is committed to strengthen participatory watershed management projects in different regions of India by offering a variety of support services (training; hand holding support; research; evaluation and project management support; networking for better policies; developing communication material) and playing different roles – resource support organization; implementation agency; research and knowledge partner; networking agency for advocacy.  Enhancing the space for civil society groups and amplifying community’s voice in management of natural resources are important functions of WASSAN.   

Partnership with NGOs

WASSAN’s primary mandate is to build capacities of NGOs in the context of watershed based livelihoods projects. WASSAN collaborated with large number of NGOs for strengthening participatory watershed management in drought prone areas of India.

WASSAN Action Study Project (1997-2002)

WASSAN supported Three NGOs – Vikasam, Serene Services and REEDS in RR District, which were implementing watershed development projects, with the support of District Water Management Agency (DWMA), RR district in Andhra Pradesh. The main purpose of this project was to ensure the spirit of Guidelines for watershed development projects are realized on the ground. These 6 watershed projects and the processes followed are considered to be role models in the district. AEI, Aide a' I'Enfance de I'Inde, Luxembourg and Center for World Solidarity financially supported this initiative.


APRLP with Deccan Development NGOs Network (2001-2003)

WASSAN provided technical and managerial support services to members of Deccan Development NGOs Network (DDNN) for demonstrating livelihoods integration in watershed management projects under AP Rural Livelihoods Projects. These projects were implemented in Nalgonda District, Andhra Pradesh and funded by AP Rural Livelihoods Project by DFID I and Government of India. As part of this initiative, WASSAN could demonstrate several participatory processes and approaches that have focus on livelihoods and natural resources


Partnership with State Governments on Watershed Management


Support to Commissioner Rural Development, GoAP for APRLP

WASSAN has long association and partnership with Commissionerate of Rural Development, Government of Andhra Pradesh, in the context of watershed development projects. These partnerships and experiences are briefly mentioned here.


Process Guidelines for APRLP (2001-02)

WASSAN anchored the process of developing Process Guidelines for AP Rural Livelihoods Projects in collaboration with Commissionerate of Rural Development, GoAP. As part of this partnership, WASSAN complied good practices on natural resource based livelihoods and evolved a framework of livelihoods based watershed management projects for APRLP. WASSAN also conducted a diagnostic study on the processes followed in watershed projects in the state (Nalgonda; Mehbubnagar and RR Districts as sample), to assess the situation on the ground


Establishment of Livelihood Resource Centres (LRC) (2005-09)

Capacity Building (CB) of various stakeholders is one of the important elements of watershed development projects, under AP Rural Livelihoods Project. Growing demand for institutionalizing this Capacity Building (CB) service delivery was one of the important challenges of this project. WASSAN established Livelihood Resource Centre at Parigi, RR District in 2005. This LRC provided both capacity building services (training, information, knowledge, resources and so on), to the watershed projects and also demonstrated various livelihoods promotion activities in watershed villages. This is the first of its kind in Andhra Pradesh. GoAP adopted this strategy and with the support of DFID under APRLP, established 55 Cluster Level Resource Centres (CLRCs). Though the partnership with Government of Andhra Pradesh on this agenda concluded, WASSAN continues to anchor this Livelihoods Resource Center at Parigi, which has a strategic importance in the WASSAN’s institutional space.


Providing planning support to Integrated Watershed Management Programme (IWMP), Andhra Pradesh (2010-11)

Preparation of Detailed Project Report (DPR) is a very important step and common guidelines for watershed projects – 2008 allocated 1% of the total project cost for DPR preparation. State Level Nodal Agency of Andhra Pradesh appointed Mandal Parishad Development officers (MPDOs) as PIAs who were not in a position to prepare DPRs, because they do not have watershed experience. In such situation, WASSAN and other reputed NGOs supported SLNA GoAP in developing the DPRs for Integrated Watershed Management Projects in Andhra Pradesh. WASSAN developed DPRs in all given watershed villages in four districts – RR District; Mahaboobnagar: Khammam; Srikakulam and Anantapur Districts.  Total Projects were 31 and number of micro watersheds is 198. This support to SLNA, AP further helped us in leveraging space for NGOs in IWMP. 12 NGOs were identified as PIAs for 22 IWMP projects of 2009-10 batch. There are more number of NGOs as PIAs in every batch.


Support to Orissa Watershed Development Mission, WORLP

Developing Process Guidelines for Orissa Watershed Development Mission (OWDM) (2005 to 07)


WASSAN provided support to OWDM in developing “Process Guidelines” for the watershed development projects under Western Orissa Rural Livelihoods Projects in Orissa. These process guidelines highlight the importance of participatory processes along with achieving progress and other outputs. It was made mandatory of following process guidelines for all watershed development projects in the state. This initiative was funded by DFID I.


Preparatory phase Assessment of IWMP projects – Odisha (2010-11)

According to the common guidelines for watershed projects, evaluation of preparatory phase by an independent agency is mandatory to graduate to next phase. WASSAN did this study in Odisha for 65 projects of 2009-10 covering 651 Micro Watersheds. The evaluation reports were submitted with recommendations for further improvement


Support to Orissa Tribal Empowerment and Livelihoods Project

Conceptualizing Process Guidelines and exit policy for Orissa Tribal Empowerment and Livelihoods Projects (OTELP) (2006-08)

Orissa Tribal Empowerment and Livelihoods Project (OTELP)” is a major bilateral project in Orissa that aims at empowering tribal communities in forest areas, through a variety of innovative projects interventions – natural resource management (under watershed development principles); livelihoods; productivity; legal support; forest resource development and rights; institution development and capacity building support. WASSAN anchored the process of conceptualizing Process Guidelines for OTELP, which include process indicators that are necessary for monitoring the project outcomes at various stages. WASSAN developed the “Exit Strategy” and “Step by Step Process Guidelines” for the OTELP to exit from the project villages, after the first phase of this project.


Partnership with Government of Jharkhand

Providing Professional Support Services in Implementation of IWMP to SLNA, Jharkhand (2010-12)

  • WASSAN, PRADAN and CInI formed a consortium and developed partnerships with State Level Nodal Agency, Jharkhand. WASSAN functioned as a lead partner in this arrangement. Other resource organizations are providing inputs & support on specific themes. The main role of this consortium is to provide technical and managerial support to SLNA and contribute to the process of developing relevant policy framework for implementing IWMP. This partnership was formalized through a MoU in July 2010, after a long process of exactly one year (24th July 2009 to 24th July 2010). Jharkhand State Livelihoods Promotion Society (JSPLS), a unit supported by UNDP, provided financial support to the Consortium, as part of its mandate to strengthen rural livelihoods in the state. The Consortium established a Secretariat with professionals and regularly providing inputs to the SLNA, Jharkhand. The partnership formally concluded in July 2012. This consortium provided professional and technical support in implementation of Integrated Watershed Management Programme (IWMP) to SLNA, Jharkhand. As part of this partnership, the Consortium of Resource Organizations supported SLNA, Jharkhand in the following aspects.
  • Process Guidelines for Operationalizing Common Guidelines of Watershed Development Projects in Jharkhand State
  • Capacity Building Strategies for IWMP in Jharkhand
  • Monitoring, Learning and Evaluation Strategies
  • Developing Detailed Project Reports for watershed development projects
  • Supported SLNA in evolving protocols/ methodologies for developing Detailed Project Reports.
  • Developing formats/ strategy for conducting base line survey of selected watershed villages
  • Organized orientation/ training programs for watershed development teams on the process of conducting base line surveys
  • Organized training and orientation programs to Communication Teams, consisting of local artists (Chow dancers; Nukkad Natak Teams, etc), who are engaged in conducting communication campaigns in the watershed villages.
  • Developed a set of guidelines to organize the communication campaigns/ events on a regular basis in the watershed villages.
  • Developed Bye-laws for registration of watershed committees and sharing with SLNA for further action.
  • Evolved a framework for developing Detailed Project Reports (DPRs)


As a promotor of Networks of NGOs for Capacity Building

Capacity Building Network in RR District (2002-05)

WASSAN established and nurtured a network of NGO Resource Organizations in RR District. The main mandate of this network was to provide capacity building services (training, planning and review support) to District Watershed Management Agency, RR District, in the context of watershed development projects in the district. MV Foundation; Vikasa, Jeevandaata, Jan Vikas and WASSAN are the members of this “Capacity Building Network”. Several resource persons from NGOs and communities are part of this network too. Training calendars are developed in monthly meetings and resource persons were deputed to each village/ training venue from the network. This arrangement could provide training inputs to large number of watershed committees/ functionaries on a variety of themes. WASSAN conducted training of trainers programs, anchored planning and review meetings; provided feedback to the members and backstopped the arrangement. The network had a formal memorandum of understanding with Project Director, DWMA, RR District.


Anchoring secretariat of AP Consortium of Resource Organizations (2005-06)

As part of capacity building strategy of APRLP, Commissioner, Rural Development, GoAP established a Consortium of Resource Organizations in AP. WASSAN functioned as a secretariat of this Consortium. As a secretariat, WASSAN was instrumental in bringing together the expertise of various members towards the capacity building needs of watershed development projects in the state. WASSAN along with other members developed various resource material/ modules on watershed development projects. WASSAN also contributed to the process of developing – Process Guidelines for AP Rural Livelihoods Projects in AP and Capacity Building Strategy for APRLP.


Network of Livelihoods Resource Centers (2004-05)

As part of the capacity building strategy of AP Rural Livelihoods Projects, WASSAN facilitated the partnerships between NGO resource organizations in Andhra Pradesh and Commissionerate of Rural Development, GoAP for anchoring the Cluster Livelihoods Resource Centers in the state. WASSAN provided managerial and monitoring support to the CLRCs anchored by NGOs. 13 NGOs were part of this network during this time – WASSAN, Timbuktu Collective; BAIF; ASDS; ARTS; Artic: Breds; APMAS, Kosgi Mandal Mahila Samakhya –are some of these prominent partners in this initiative. This partnership demonstrated an important arrangement for strengthening watershed projects. It also provided meaningful contribution to the shift in Government’s thinking towards Go-NGO collaborations, though there were several ups and downs in the partnership.


Professional Support to Livelihoods Resource Centers (2006-07)

As part of capacity building agenda, Commissionerate of Rural Development, GoAP established 55 Livelihoods Resource Centers in the state. These centers needed support and guidance to deliver its promise. WASSAN provided “professional support services” to all the CLRCs in three districts (RR District; Mehbubnagar and Srikakulam). As a result of this engagement, the performance of CLRCs in these districts improved significantly. WASSAN could replicate its experience of working with LRC and making it more meaningful and important institutional arrangement and support system to watershed projects, in these three districts. Systems were established for making the LRC more viable.


As Project Management Support Organization

Assessment of probationary period of watershed projects in APRLP (2002-03)

This was taken up for the District Watershed Management Agency, Nalgonda district. It has evaluated the processes in the probation period of all the watersheds under AP Rural Livelihoods Program and assigned grades. Based on the grades the DWMA planned capacity building activities.


Independent and External Process Monitoring of AP Rural Livelihoods Projects (2005-07)

After issuing the Process Guidelines, Commissionerate of Rural Development, GoAP wanted to understand the field level realities in the context of Process Guidelines of AP Rural Livelihoods Projects. WASSAN conducted process monitoring of the actual implementation of watershed development projects in the framework of Process Guidelines in 8 districts. For this purpose, WASSAN organized a national workshop to develop a comprehensive framework for monitoring process indicators. WASSAN developed a bench mark report on the processes of watershed projects in the state. A pool of resource persons was developed for assessing the processes of APRLP in the state. As part of this agenda, WASSAN and the teams of trained process monitors were regularly (once in two months) conducting field visits/ monitoring exercises to understand the “progress on processes”. WASSAN also developed a set of tools/ methodologies for monitoring and documenting processes. With the help of specially developed software, WASSAN was able to consolidate the process data and share the same with district/ state level officers engaged with watershed development projects in the state. A special emphasis was given on the functioning of Cluster Livelihoods Resource Centers also, as part of process monitoring. WASSAN was organizing quarterly meetings at district level to provide feedback to the district officers on the field level situation. This helped to take necessary action by the district administration, in limited number of occasions. WASSAN produced several tools, publications and studies as part of this initiative. This initiative was funded by DFID I, New Delhi.


Providing planning support to Integrated Watershed Management Programme (IWMP), Andhra Pradesh (2010-11)

Preparation of Detailed Project Report (DPR) is a very important step and common guidelines for watershed projects – 2008 allocated 1% of the total project cost for DPR preparation. State Level Nodal Agency of Andhra Pradesh appointed Mandal Parishad Development officers (MPDOs) as PIAs who were not in a position to prepare DPRs, because they do not have watershed experience. In such situation, WASSAN and other reputed NGOs supported SLNA GoAP in developing the DPRs for Integrated Watershed Management Projects in Andhra Pradesh. WASSAN developed DPRs in all given watershed villages in four districts – RR District; Mahaboobnagar: Khammam; Srikakulam and Anantapur Districts.  Total Projects were 31 and number of micro watersheds is 198. This support to SLNA, AP further helped us in leveraging space for NGOs in IWMP. 12 NGOs were identified as PIAs for 22 IWMP projects of 2009-10 batch. There are more number of NGOs as PIAs in every batch.


As Knowledge Partner

WASSAN conducted several studies, consolidated good practices from partners and developed a variety of manuals/ resource materials on watershed management projects. The details of these knowledge products are presented here.

Understanding Processes in Watershed Development Projects in Nalgonda and RR District (2001-02)

When AP Rural Livelihoods Project was being conceptualized, there was a need to understand the situation on the ground, particularly “processes” followed in watershed management projects. WASSAN conducted “process studies” to assess the processes adopted in the watershed projects in Nalgonda and RR Districts. These studies were supported by APRLP and DWMA, RR District. The processes (on the ground) were linked with potential outputs and outcomes at village level. The variations between defined processes and actual process were brought into the limelight, through the reports. These diagnostic reports in Nalgonda and RR Districts of Andhra Pradesh provided a basis for Macro Policy Working Group for defining the policy framework for watershed management projects under APRLP. WASSAN anchored this working group and this group was supported by PSU- AP Rural Livelihoods Program. Detailed process guidelines were prepared elaborating on the participatory processes and equity and livelihoods mechanisms. Introducing a budget node for Livelihoods and Productivity enhancement as part of the works budget was a major achievement in the guidelines. The study suggested the reforms needed to bring in more enabling participatory environment and effective administrative and management systems.


Understanding Processes in Watershed Development Projects in India: A National Process Study in Watershed Projects (2004-06)

The purpose of this study was to understand Processes of Watershed Development Projects in India. This study was supported by Indo Canadian Environment Facility (ICEF) and taken up in seven states across the country viz., Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Nagaland. The research and consultation process in each state is anchored by a reputed state level organization – Orissa Watershed Development Mission (Orissa); AFPRO (Chhattisgarh); PRADAN (Jharkhand); NCEHS (MP); ARAVALI (Rajasthan); Arthik Anusandhan Kendra (UP) and NEPED (Nagaland). This is a large network initiative towards influencing national watershed policy. The main recommendations/ observations of this study significantly contributed to the formulation of Common Guidelines for Watershed Development Projects (2008). The study findings and recommendations are shared with Partha Sarathy Committee and several of the recommendations found space in the Common Guidelines for Watershed Management Projects (2008), that were issued by Department of Land Resources, Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India.


Study of DANIDA supported watershed projects (2003-2006)

A research network consisting of WASSAN, WOTR (Ahmednagar), MANAGE and Poverty Learning Foundation (PLF, Hyderabad) studied the Experiences of DANIDA supported projects in Maharashtra, Orissa and Karnataka on the themes of user rights, sustainability of watershed interventions, capacity building strategies, targeting poor and participatory monitoring and evaluation systems. New perspectives and dimensions brought into watershed projects were studied and found they are relevant in sustaining the impacts of watershed projects.


Study of livelihoods, gender and equity concerns in watershed projects

A study on Livestock - Environment Interactions in watersheds was taken up as a part of the national study taken up by International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and supported by a consortium including SDC and FAO. WASSAN anchored this study for Andhra Pradesh. An advocacy platform - LEAD Advocacy Network emerged from this initiative to take forward the issues of livestock and livelihoods in various policies/ programs.


Study on Livelihoods of small ruminant rearers

As part of Small Ruminant Development Project of NRM Program Andhra Pradesh of SDC-IC, WASSAN conducted a study on the growth paths and livelihood profiles of a cross section of small ruminant rearers’ households in Andhra Pradesh. The study also presented the larger implications of these livelihoods patterns, for policy and action. This study helped to sharpen the advocacy efforts of NGO partners, SDC-IC and WASSAN on issues related to livestock with a specific focus on small ruminants into watershed projects


Study on livestock issues in watershed projects - Understanding concerns of livestock in watershed development projects

This study was conducted for Indo German Watershed Development Projects in partnership with ANTHRA, an NGO working for livestock. The study focused on situation analysis; necessary project implementation designs such as funding support; project components (drinking water, fodder, health services, preventive vaccination, insurance etc) into watershed projects; and operational strategies for addressing the livestock concerns within IGWDP.


Gender issues in watershed projects

WASSAN conducted a study in 10 watersheds across the state to understand the gender discrimination in watershed programs. Based on an analysis of how men and women access the benefits of watershed development program the factors that help in promoting the role of women within watershed development program were enlisted. Similarly the process of sharing opportunities, resources and power between men and women in the context of watershed development program were also conceptualized. This study was sponsored and conducted by WASSAN.


Study to Develop Natural Resource Management Strategy for AP Rural Poverty Reduction Project (APRPRP)

WASSAN was given an assignment by Society for Elimination of Rural Poverty (SERP) to develop NRM strategy for the AP Rural Poverty Reduction Project (APRPRP). This project was supported by the World Bank. This study closely studied number of NRM initiatives across Andhra Pradesh state that has an impact on poverty. This was taken up in collaboration with Centre for World Solidarity (CWS), Secunderabad. The study has number of reports including “Processes that Facilitate Inclusion and Exclusion of Poor in Watershed Program”, apart from main strategy for SERP to take up NRM based poverty reduction projects, for poor families.


Process Documentation of Dalit Watersheds (2003)

Deccan Development Society (DDS) is a reputed NGO working for improving rain-fed agriculture, food security and dalit rights. DDS implemented a project called – “Dalit Watersheds” with a clear focus on lands that belong to dalit families and promoted variety of interventions to ensure food security and environmental sustainability. WASSAN conducted an assessment of this project. This study provided several insights into making the assigned lands productive. This is instrumental in conceptualizing the Comprehensive Land Development Program of the government. The study report was jointly published by DDS and WASSAN.

Understanding wage issues in watershed projects

This study was a part of WASSAN’s advocacy process. This was taken up along with agriculture labour unions. It has oriented the leaders of some prominent unions on watershed program who have analysed the wage issues. The results were presented in the Annual Network Meetings 2004 which created a good impact.


Technological challenges in watershed projects – A Study on Continuous Contour Trenches in Watershed Development Program (2001).

A study on Continuous Contour Trenches in Watershed Development Program (WDP) (2001) was taken up by the Technology Resource Group in response to the large-scale promotion of Continuous Contour Trenches (CCTs) using hydraulic excavators (replacing manual labour). A team from CRIDA, APARD, AFPRO, PROGRESS and WASSAN made a detailed analysis of the implementation of CCT in several parts of the state. The group recommended that CCTs of smaller dimensions constructed with manual labour are more sustainable.


Expanding Boundaries - From Soil Conservation to Land Husbandry (2003).

This study was taken up with the support of Technology Resource Group. A team of scientists from CRIDA, APARD, AFPRO, PROGRESS and WASSAN participated in this study. This study was initiated in the backdrop of the controversy on not allowing earthen bunds, interventions in watersheds by the rural development department. This study was in continuation of the previous study on Continuous Contour Trenches in Watershed Development Program. The study emphasized the need for a shift from soil conservation to land husbandry i.e. from mechanical structures to taking ‘care’ of land including soil health.


Understanding impacts of Watershed Development Projects (2003-04)

This study looked at the impacts of watershed programs in 5 watersheds in four districts of Andhra Pradesh. It analyzed the investments and impacts of various watershed interventions in the selected watershed projects. Water Conservation Mission, Government of Andhra Pradesh sponsored this study and published the study report. This study recommended type of interventions that are required in watershed development projects to create more impact.


Impact Assessment Study of Watershed Projects in Uttar Pradesh (2009-10)

National Institute of Rural Development (NIRD), Hyderabad commissioned this study across the country. With the support of NIRD, WASSAN conducted an impact assessment of watershed development projects of DPAP and IWDP in Uttar Pradesh in 100 watershed villages. This study was sponsored by Department of Land Resources, Ministry of Rural Development, GoI.


Comprehensive Study of Impact of Investments on Watershed Projects in Andhra Pradesh and Odisha (2011-12)

National Institute of Rural Development (NIRD), Hyderabad commissioned these studies across the country. WASSAN studied 55 watershed projects in Andhra Pradesh and 15 watershed projects in Orissa state. The watershed projects sanctioned by DoLR, MoRD, GoI during the period from Apr 2002 to Mar 2005 under IWDP, DPAP and DDP were studied as part of this study.


A Study on Utilization of Training Inputs (2005-07)

Capacity Building strategy has a special emphasis in watershed development projects. Livelihood resource centres (LRCs) state are established in Andhra Pradesh for this purpose and series of training programmes were organized in LRCs. As part of Independent and External Process Monitoring, a study on the application and utilization of training inputs was taken up by WASSAN. Feedback was given to GoAP, DWMAs and LRCs. This helped in understanding the quality of training inputs to the communities by the LRCs and improved quality of resource material, training modules, resource persons and quality of content delivery to make the training inputs more relevant to the communities.



Convergence of CBOs and Panchayat Raj Institutions in Natural Resource Management (NRM) (2009)

This study was conducted in collaboration with Pilupu and SDC-IC. This is to understand convergence between CBOs and Gram Panchayat in implementation of watershed development projects. SDC-IC supported this study.


Capacity Building (CB) Strategy for IGWDP (2008-09)

As a part of this assignment with NABARD, a project cycle for IGWDP was developed detailing the processes and deriving the capacity building needs and strategy to be followed. Mandatory capacity building inputs are proposed to simplify the capacity building inputs as part of IGWDP.


Study on enhancing fodder options (2005-06)

This study focused on the fodder-livestock-livelihood issues and opportunities for enhancing livelihoods of poor. This study was supported by International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).


Potential of CBOs to undertake watershed development project implementation (2008-09)

This is an internal study to provide a greater understanding on institutional strengths and weakness for CBOs to take up NRM initiatives. Ms.Shashirekha Rajgopalan and WASSAN team anchored the study. Team members from APMAS also joined the study process. Based on field interactions with several CBOs across the state, the study team put together some recommendations for WASSAN.

Partnership with State Level Nodal Agencies

  • Partnership with Government of Andhra Pradesh
  • WASSAN in the process of integrating participatory groundwater management principles and practices within Integrated Watershed Management Projects in Anantapur district. This initiative is being supported by UNDP, New Delhi.
  • Apart from this, WASSAN is also closely associated with SLNA AP on a variety of themes related IWMP, for a long period. These associations/ partnerships would open up at different points of time, as per the needs of SLNA IWMP, GoAP.


  • Partnership with Government of Telangana
  • WASSAN in the process of integrating participatory groundwater management principles and practices within Integrated Watershed Management Projects in Mehbunnagar and Nalgonda districts. This initiative is being supported by UNDP, New Delhi.
  • Apart from this, WASSAN is also closely associated with SLNA Telangana on a variety of themes related IWMP/ other rural development projects Eg: Indira Jala Prabha), for a long period. These associations/ partnerships would open up at different points of time, as per the needs of SLNA IWMP, Government of Telangana.


  • Partnership with Government of Orissa
  • WASSAN in the process of integrating participatory groundwater management principles and practices within Integrated Watershed Management Projects in Kandamal district, Odisha. This initiative is being supported by UNDP, New Delhi.
  • Apart from this, WASSAN is also collaborating with Orissa Tribal Empowerment and Livelihoods Project (OTELP) in Malkangiri District as Resource Support Organization, since 2012.


  • Partnership with Government of Tripura
  • Providing planning support to Integrated Watershed Management Programme (IWMP), Tripura (Since 2010)
  • Preparation of Detailed Project Report is very important step and common guidelines for watershed projects – 2008 allocated 1% of the total project cost for DPR preparation using scientific methods and people’s participation. SLNAs were not in a position to prepare sound DPRs. WASSAN provided professional and technical support to SLNA, Tripura in preparation of DPRs. WASSAN supported PIAs in developing DPRs in pilot watershed villages (one per district). Simultaneously the PIAs prepared DPRs for remaining watershed projects using same method and process. WASSAN developed a user-friendly excel based planning tool, which automatically generates all summary tables for DPR as well as designs and estimates.


  • Preparatory phase Assessment of IWMP projects – Tripura (2010 onwards):
  • According to the common guidelines for watershed projects, evaluation of preparatory phase by an independent agency is mandatory to graduate to next phase. WASSAN has been conducting assessment of probationary phase of IWMP Projects since 2010 for SLNA, Tripura. The evaluation reports were submitted with recommendations for further improvement


  • Assessment of Works Phase of IWMP projects – Tripura:
  • According to the common guidelines for watershed projects, evaluation of critical phases of IWMP by an independent agency is mandatory to graduate to next phase. WASSAN has been conducting assessment of works phase of IWMP Projects since 2013 onwards for SLNA, Tripura. Tripura was the first state to complete this assessment for selected watersheds under IWMP and WASSAN was the first agency in the country to conduct this assessment and developed related tools/ methodologies for assessing works phase of IWMP.


  • Partnership with Government of Manipur
  • Preparatory phase Assessment of IWMP projects – Manipur (2012 onwards):
  • According to the common guidelines for watershed projects, evaluation of preparatory phase by an independent agency is mandatory to graduate to next phase. WASSAN has been conducting assessment of probationary phase of IWMP Projects since 2012 for SLNA, Manipur. The evaluation reports were submitted with recommendations for further improvement.


  • Partnership with Government of Chhattisgarh
  • Providing Evaluation support to SLNA, Chhattisgarh (2012-2015)
  • WASSAN is providing evaluation support to IWMP watershed projects in Chhattisgarh. As part of this partnership, WASSAN has conducted mandatory evaluations of preparatory phase assessment of IWMP projects of 2009-10 and 2010-11 batches in Chhattisgarh.


  • Providing Capacity Building Support to SLNA, Chhattisgarh (2012-2015)
  • WASSAN and Center for People’s Forestry constituted a consortium of resource organizations and established a Secretariat at SIRD, Raipur for SLNA Chhattisgarh. The mandate of this secretariat is to provide training inputs to watershed functionaries in the state.


  • Partnership with Government of Jammu & Kashmir (2013 onwards)
  • WASSAN partnered with SLNA Jammu Kashmir and supported the PIA and other functionaries in developing Detailed Project Reports for 44 IWMP projects in all three regions of the state.
  • WASSAN also conducted several training programs and other field level demonstrations for supporting planning processes for IWMP, including GIS applications.
  • By collaborating with MANAGE, WASSAN conducted evaluation of preparatory phase of IWMP Projects (2010-11).
  • This support and capacity building inputs helped the SLNA Jammu Kashmir to overcome the time lags, in the project management.



  • As a Project Implementing Agency in Andhra Pradesh under Integrated Watershed Management Projects at Parigi and Doma Mandals RR District Telangana:


Though WASSAN’s main role is a support organization, there was always a need for having “your own” field area. Over a period of time, it is increasingly becoming important to have “our own” implementation experience on the ground. This function of WASSAN (to implement projects as a grass root level organization) is expected to enrich the profile of WASSAN and also deepen the rootedness of the organization. SLNA, AP was also looking for agencies which are working at national level and performing functions of resource organizations in the first batch. Given this background, WASSAN formally became a Project Implementing Agency in Parigi and Doma mandals of Ranga Reddy Districts of Andhra Pradesh since July 2010. Though WASSAN was initially recognized as a PIA for Bomraspet IWMP projects in Mehaboobnagar district, WASSAN withdrew from these villages as the local village leaders and peoples representatives of the mandal were reluctant to partner with an NGO. As an implementing agency, WASSAN is learning several new lessons each day. Some of these lessons are old and some new.


As part of direct implementation responsibilities, WASSAN team focused on participatory processes and established 300+ user groups. User group wise action plans were developed for improving natural resources and production systems. Considering the importance of groundwater in watershed management, WASSAN developed groundwater maps of all the project villages. Well inventory of the project villages was developed to assess the groundwater use and management in the watershed villages. Delineation of recharge zones and discharge zones in each watershed helped to identify water resource augmentation related activities in each watershed level. As part of improving water related awareness, WASSAN conducted exposure visits to role model villages including those villages where WASSAN is already working on groundwater pooling, fisheries, etc. These exposure visits helped to open up new opportunities for these villages and model action plans were developed with a specific focus on water security. Detailed Project Reports of each watershed project were revised to incorporate these elements of “water security plans”. WASSAN intends to demonstrate the community based water resource management including groundwater by developing local institutions – Gram Panchayat Groundwater Councils. These groundwater councils would develop water security plans and implement them in due course of time.    


To support this process and improve knowledge base of the villages on water resources (particularly climate and groundwater point of view), Climate Information Centers are being established in 12 villages as part of entry point activities. State Level Nodal Agency/ District Water Management Agency (RR District) approved this approach as a special case under IMWP. It is expected that these Climate Information Centres would provide necessary information and knowledge in water and agriculture management at local level. These centers are linked to automatic rain gauge at Livelihoods Resource Center, Parigi, which provides back end support to this network of Climate Information Centers.  


WASSAN also intends to promote low carbon farming as part of watershed management. Efforts are being made to convert user groups of IWMP villages as active members in low carbon farming and trading. As part of watershed management and production systems improvement, WASSAN is in the process of developing a cadre of local entrepreneurs who would promote several products that are central to low carbon farming and environmentally sustainable farming practices.


  • As Resource Support Organization - Partnership with NABARD Funded Watershed Projects

Since 2007, WASSAN is functioning as Resource Support Organization (RSO) for Karimnagar, Adilabad, Mahabubnagar and Khammam districts for NABARD (National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development) supported watershed development projects in Telangana state. These projects are related to Watershed Development Fund (WDF) and Indo German Watershed Development Program (IGWDP). About 30 NGOs are functioning as Project Facilitating Agencies (PFA) under these projects, covering about 1,10,731 hectares of watershed area.


As a RSO, WASSAN is offering technical, managerial and monitoring support to these projects. It includes capacity building and hand holding at watershed/community level during various stages of the project. During the initial phase of these projects, WASSAN offered professional support in conceptualizing the guidelines and related processes, at various stages. Later, it also took active part in identification of relevant NGOs and suitable villages for the project. Conducting regular meetings for planning, reviewing and monitoring is an important function of WASSAN as RSO.  Further, also providing support to PFAs to ground the pilots/ innovations in the water management, water pooling and sharing, Productivity Enhancement, Livelihood related, Millets, SRI and Fisheries etc. The support extended to the partners has enabled the field NGOs to go through the critical milestones and move into the Final Implementation Phase (FIP). Meanwhile, WASSAN developed various communication material and modules that are specifically relevant to NABARD projects.


  • Watershed Development Fund (WDF)

WDF program, funded by NABARD is being implemented in distress mandals throughout the country under Prime Minister Relief Package. It was launched in 2007 in 16 districts of Andhra Pradesh.  In the initial stages (In 2007), WASSAN was RSO for 6 districts - Adilabad, Khammam, Karimnagar, Nizamabad, Nalgonda and Mahabubnagar. The project comprised of 63 watersheds with a total area of 55340.87 hectares. As per the NABARD norms, the total watershed area allocated for a district was 15,000 Hectares, but in 2008-09 this areas was doubled. This has resulted in operational difficulties for the RSOs. Non availability of skilled staff was another concern. In this context, NABARD suggested RSOs to re-choose the districts where it wants to work. Subsequently, WASSAN withdrew as RSO from 3 districts, Nalgonda, Karimnagar and Nizamabad in 2008-09, and continued with Adilabad, Khammam and Mahabubnagar districts. But the number of watersheds and project area increased with the progress of the project in the districts, where WASSAN continued to work. The details of WASSAN’s partners in WDF project are presented in Table No 1.


There are 3 phases in the project cycle; Pre-Capacity Building Phase, also known as Qualifying Shramdaan, Capacity Building Phase (CBP), Feasibility Study Report (FSR) and Full Implementation Phase (FIP). Each of these phases has its own qualifying parameters which need to be necessarily accomplished to get into the next phase.


In the process, building capacities of partners and community based organizations; WASSAN conducted several trainings, demonstrated newer field practices and organized exposure visits on different themes. These include; WDF concept, Social Mobilization, Participatory Net Planning, Roles and Responsibilities of Village Watershed Committee, Book keeping, Quality parameters, Sustainable Agriculture practices, Nursery Raising, Chick Rearing and Fisheries Development, SRI, Millets promotion, Preventive vaccination, Vegetable cultivation, Enhancement of Livelihoods, Ground water sharing, water management practices,  etc. Staff members of partners; office bearers of watershed committees and village level leaders were the target groups for such capacity building activities. A pool of resource persons was developed for supporting WASSAN and its partners for conducting land use planning; participatory net planning; agriculture & livelihood planning; training programs, etc. 


As part of monitoring and project management support, WASSAN holds planning & review meetings every month in the respective districts. These meetings provide a platform for experience sharing, learning, motivation and up scaling etc. WASSAN conducts regular field visits to villages and demonstrate newer practices, ensures quality of physical interventions; tracks the systems and adherence to the project norms (mandatory shrama daan/ voluntary contribution; decision making processes; timely interventions by partners and so on). WASSAN also provides feedback to NABARD on the project developments; bottlenecks and proposes necessary interventions for taking the agenda forward.  


Besides supporting regular watershed works, WASSAN motivated partners to integrate several innovative livelihood components into the project. Required linkages were established with Line Departments like Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries etc. Efforts were also made to ensure quality in the works and promote transparency in wage payments.


Innovations in WDF

While the “integrated” approaches are quite a common phrase in watershed parlance, there are limited examples that demonstrate the “integration” in reality. WASSAN motivated NABARD and partners to go beyond soil conservation works. These efforts resulted in the following newer elements within WDF watershed projects.   


Backyard Poultry: This was initiated in 15 watersheds in Mahabubnagar and 9 watersheds in Khammam district. Chick Rearing Centers were established by women and the grownup birds were sold to backyard. Three to four such cycles were completed In 5 watersheds of Mahabubnagar and the activity has fetched good returns to the rearers. In Adilabad, local chicks were procured for back yard rearing. So far, 3-4 cycles are completed in the watershed villages.


Livestock Health Care Services: Vaccination services for livestock were provided in all the watersheds, covering both the small and large ruminants. In Adilabad district, community managed preventive vaccination program was introduced for preventing Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) with the help of Department of Animal Husbandry. FMD vaccination was taken up under the supervision and facilitation of Village Watershed Development Committee and PFAs of the respective watersheds. Paid system was introduced in remote areas where animal health services are not available. Accordingly para workers were paid by the livestock owners for their services.


Inland Fisheries: , Inland fisheries was taken up in 18 watersheds in Mahabubnagar, 9 watersheds in Khammam and 3 watersheds in Adilabad districts, In 2010-11. Technical support from Fisheries Resource Center managed by KVK, Jammikunta and WASSAN provided necessary guidance to partners. A total of 30,69,000 fingerlings of different varieties of fish seed like Bocha, Rohu, CC, Grass carp were released in the tanks. On an average, there was an income ranging from Rs. 150000-250000 per annum with this activity in a watershed village. A field day was conducted in Munnanur watershed of Mahabubnagar district, in which all the PFAs of the district participated. Extension of the activity to some more feasible watersheds has been planned for in all the three districts.


Water management practices were initiated in Mahaboobnagar, through convergence mode with AP Minor Irrigation Project support. Sprinklers have been purchased with loan from watershed project funds, farmer contribution and subsidy from department in Galigudem watershed (10 sprinklers sets for 10 ac). This initiative was facilitated by ECO CLUB in Kondurgu mandal of Mahaboobnagar. Similarly, the same was grounded in Khammam and Adilabad districts through convergence with AP MIP.


Ground water pooling and sharing practices: Total 5 sites have been identified in Adilabad , Khammam and Mahaboobnagar districts for ground water pooling and sharing in WDF watershed villages.  Of the above recently completed the pipeline work in Chintakarra watershed facilitated by SISS PFA in Adilabad district.


Productivity Enhancement: Plans have been developed for various productivity enhancement measures related to both agriculture and livestock, as part of Full Implementation Phase. SRI cultivation, NPM, Vermi Composting, Intercropping, Green Manuring, Seed Production of major crops, Dry land Horticulture, Floriculture, Fodder Cultivation, Azolla cultivation and Compost making etc. have been initiated across the watersheds, wherever they are feasible.


SRI cultivation in 200 ac in 4 watersheds was funded ATMA funds, due to efforts made by ECO CLUB.


Livestock based Livelihoods: Sheep rearing was promoted as an enterprise in many watersheds of Adilabad, Khammam and Mahaboobnagar districts. The flock size increased and fetched a substantial income to the rearers. Preventive health care services were also taken care of.


Non-Farm activities: These activities were taken up in watershed villages, basically for livelihood enhancement of landless and poorest of the poor families. Based on the locally available resources, community interest and experiences, activities were initiated. Skill based livelihood options such as tailoring; embroidery, carpentry etc were also encouraged.


Non Timber Forest Products: Making of Agarbattis and Leaf Plates, Bamboo and Palm leaf handicrafts, Mahua, Honey and Gum collection etc. were promoted as livelihood enterprises in several watersheds.


Smoke less stoves activity was one of the highlights in Khammam district. So far more than 5000 stoves have been distributed. Rs.400 was provided from the project grant and Rs.250 had to be contributed by beneficiary. There was good response from community for this activity. 


Some Challenges:  

Initially there was a great difficulty in mobilizing the community for shramdaan in many watersheds, which is a mandatory condition of the project. It was realized that there is a need to take several capacity building efforts to make the community own the program.  Several discussions were held with the primary stakeholders on this issue. It is a tendency that the community does not easily accept to contribute. Sometimes, harsh decisions also need to be taken like withholding the payments for a brief period, till the shramdaan component is achieved. After such efforts only, the mandatory shramdaan was fulfilled in many watersheds.

With the implementation of NREGS, there was possibility of duplication of works on record, in many places, which need to be avoided. Certain efforts are needed like discussing such issues with the concerned NREGS officials and exchanging the details of demarcation areas and CBP plans with them. Initially, progress was very slow due to the competition from various on-going programmes in all watersheds. But it was addressed with required efforts which actually made positive impact on the watershed works, as the concerned staff could realize the difference in the quality of works, compared to watershed treatments, in many places. Though NREGS works are available, watershed committee members gave preference to watershed works as these works are executed by the committee members and have much better quality, in comparison to NREGS works.  

It was also realized that convergence with line departments like Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Horticulture would make many innovations possible. The inputs and technical support from these line departments have certainly helped in motivating the farmers to take up innovations. Involving Agriculture University in field trails has helped the farmers a lot. This process took some time and effort, which was not an easy task during the initial stages.

There were problems with staff turnover at PFA level. This issue existed right from the beginning of the project, which had its impact on the works and progress at field level. Resource Support Organizations need to be vigilant on such issues and efforts need to be made to look for alternatives, so that negative effect on the progress of the project could be minimized. WASSAN team had to perform the tasks of partner NGOs in several situations to tide over the project mile stones. 

The sustainability of productivity enhancement and livelihood activities largely depends on the process of selecting stakeholders and the choices made over the activities. WASSAN made efforts to minimize the bias over the stakeholder selection and the needy households/persons through Focused Group Discussions and Grama Sabha. Parameters like participation in shramdaan and requirement of loan etc were taken into consideration in the selection process. For plantation like activities, efforts were made for ensuring the survival of the plants. Linking up paying watering charges based on the survival percentage was tried out in some watersheds which resulted in improvement the survival rate.


Transparency is one critical issue which has its impact on the community owning the program. For various reasons, the community is not aware of the amount sanctioned and expended on the activities in a given watershed. In such cases, WASSAN took lead and made relevant efforts like random visits and enquiries, so that the issue of transparency is addressed. Such efforts were made in the project area, where in some cases, the labour was interviewed on their payments and the findings were placed before Gram Sabha.


Achievements of WDF:



Table No 1 –Details of WASSAN’s Partners in WDF Project since 2008-09




Name of the PFA


Names of Villages (No of Villages)

No. of watersheds

Area Covered (hect)

Total Expenditure Rs

No of Families Covered














Bow & Arrow

Enkoor  & Raghunathapalem


















































Khammam Rural & Raghunathapalem


















Sub total












 Utnoor, Indravelli






























Tanoor, Kubeer,










Koutala, Gudihatnoor


















Sub total












Balmoor & Lingala






























Dhamaragidda & Narayanpet


















































Tadur,  Wanaparthy








Sub total





















  • Indo German Watershed Development Projects (IGWDP)

The Indo German Watershed Development Programme (IGWDP) is an integrated programme for rehabilitation of watershed for regeneration of watershed resources. The programme is being implemented in 4 districts of Telangana namely Karimnagar, Medak, Warangal and Adilabad with 36 projects. While these watershed projects are anchored by National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), KfW, a German Bank is supporting this project financially. This project was initiated in 2007. WASSAN is functioning as Resource Support Organization for this project for Karimnagar and Adilabad districts. The basic details of this project are presented in Table No 2. 


As a Resource Support Organization, WASSAN performed similar roles as in WDF Project. Supporting partners in developing action plans; creating and strengthening people’s institutions; implementation of action plans; innovative approaches in watershed management –were some of these roles. Providing project management services (planning, monitoring and feedback to the NABARD and Partners) is one of the important functions of WASSAN in this project too.  


Innovations in IGWDP

Livestock in Watersheds: By converging with Animal Husbandry Department, vaccination services are continuously provided to all animals in all watershed habitations. To strengthen this sector within the watershed villages, green fodder plots are developed (annual/ perennial) in those villages, where dairy is a prominent activity. Dual purpose sorghum/ jowar plots were developed to mitigate drought impact on livestock. Local youth was identified and trained as livestock health workers. These livestock health workers are able to offer necessary health services to cattle in the watershed villages and contribute to the growth of dairy sector in the project villages.


Crop Diversity: To offset the negative impacts of mono cropping systems, systematic efforts are made to promote inter cropping systems; diversity in agriculture (millets and pulses) in watershed villages. Seed banks are developed in several villages to ensure that farmers get good quality seeds for diversifying their agriculture systems. Interested local farmers are identified and their capacities are developed to function as para workers for supporting farmers in agriculture productivity related functions. Millets, pulses, green fodder, vegetables and system of rice intensification are some of the interventions under this process.   


Fisheries: A survey was conducted to assess the potential of inland fisheries in the project villages. By taking the advisory services from local KVK, several training programs are organized to the fisher communities in the selected villages. Regular meetings, exposure visits are organized to develop discipline (on institutional and financial issues) among the fisher communities. Watershed Committee gave loans to these institutions of farmers to support them in taking up fisheries in the local water bodies. These members also learned to engage in staggered netting and improve incomes. These efforts lead to improved incomes to fisher communities in 12 watershed projects.   


Local Youth as Project Managers: The village level youth who were trained on Feasibility Study Report methodology (planning process) were absorbed into projects and are providing services to watersheds either as para-workers or supervisors. This is an example of how to retain the trained local youth by providing an opportunity immediately after completion of training. As the plans are developed by local persons the implementation of the project is smooth and fast as they themselves have developed these action plans.


Capacities of Local Institutions: Several types of capacity building inputs are provided on a variety of themes, during the project period. This helped to develop necessary orientation, skills and experiences within the local communities on all aspects of watershed management projects. 


Water Conservation: Several low cost and innovative water conservation works are introduced in the project - sand bag structures; brush wood checks; fortification of SMC structures with vegetation etc. 


Awards to Watershed Committees: Annual awards are presented to best Village Watershed Development Committees and others (best PFA, etc), in an annual event. This improved the healthy competition among the villages and helped to improve overall quality of the project itself. The parameters for best watershed and best VWC selection were then understood/ absorbed/ respected well by all watersheds/ communities.


Maintenance Fund: The introduction of half yearly review meetings of VWC representatives has helped in increasing the ownership of VWC on project. The introduction of sub committees in VWCs and the sub-committee wise trainings on their roles and responsibilities has contributed for the effectiveness functioning of VWCs. Half Yearly self-assessment of watershed committee members also helped to improve their own commitment to watershed management related initiatives in each village. These efforts helped in mobilizing maintenance fund from community. By end of the project period it is estimated that each project would have approx. Rs. 25 lakhs including their contributions towards maintenance fund.


Crop Water Budgeting and Participatory Groundwater Management: WASSAN conducted crop water budgeting exercises in each project. This exercise included a careful assessment of local water resources (availability of water in each water body), use of bore wells for agriculture, rain-fall data and estimating water use, for each village. The water balance is estimated for each village in the context of existing situation. Based on these exercises, several farmers agreed to change their cropping systems and switched over to low water consuming crops, such as millets.  Based on this initiative, few pilots are taken up to encourage sharing of groundwater by developing water grids in the villages.          


Some Challenges:

Rural Credit: Though there were several efforts at all levels from watershed committees to NABARD, for mobilize more credit into watersheds from mainstream rural banks, it did not happen as envisaged. It is still a long way for making mainstream banks relevant and useful for watershed communities. 










Achievements of IGWDP:

Table No 2 –Details of WASSAN’s Partners in IGWDP since 2007




Name of the PFA


Names of Villages (No of Villages)

No. of watershed Projects

Area Covered (hect)

Total Expenditure Rs

No of Families Covered













Konaraopet, Kodimyal


























Sub Total



















Dhan Foundation










Sirpur (U); Kherameri







Sub Total



















  • As a Secretariat to Field NGOs - Partnership with Orissa Tribal Empowerment and Livelihoods Project, Malkangiri, Orissa (2012 onwards). The basic details of the project as follows:

Table No 3 –Details of WASSAN’s Consortium since December 2011




Name of the FNGO


Names of Villages (No of Villages)

No. of watershed Projects

Area Covered (hect)

Total Expenditure Rs

No of Families Covered















































WASSAN collaborated with four local NGOs as a consortium in Malkangiri district, Orissa, which are implementing Orissa Tribal and Empowerment Program (OTELP) Plus in 43 watersheds.  As part of this initiative, WASSAN is functioning as a consortium/secretariat to the Field NGOs and offering necessary support, guidance and project management support in planning and implementation of the project. WASSAN also conducted several training programs, exposure visits, field visits and review meetings. The partners of this program closely work with ITDA and District Collectorate, Malkangiri.     



WASSAN is constantly exploring opportunities and partners to engage with research studies; monitoring and evaluation assignments on these themes – watershed management; water resources; rain-fed agriculture, WASH; employment and entitlements and other related themes.