What comes, what goes, what remains?
“Ever thought about how much there is to learn from a glass of water?” This is how the session starts. A graphic is explained, leaving the audience a bit shocked.
Then the facilitator makes 2 columns: Credit & Debit – Income & Expenditure. This Accounts 101 is not for money, but for another kind of liquidity- Water, the mother resource.
This is WOTR’s Water Budgeting Tool.
Water Budgeting trainings are regularly conducted, where the community is familiarised with the tool to assess their water usage, based on which they make decisions for their own villages.
Here, Water flows instead of money and Rain instead of daily wages or market sales. Expenditure of water on home, farm and cattle is something people are all familiar with. Things we hardly ever think about i.e. evaporation of water from open water bodies and transpiration from leaves are also debited.
In water sources, external sources like tankers or canals or moving sources of water like rivers are excluded. Only water directly received by the village as rain and that got stored as groundwater is included. Next, the total water received by the village is calculated (in hectare metre) by multiplying its area in hectares to the amount of rainfall in metres.
1 hectare metre = 1 crore litre. So the amount of water available is calculated in crore litre, then in the number of water tankers which would make up that many crore litre and then in the cost of all these tankers put together. Most villages in project areas have had to have water brought to them in tankers in the summer. So calculating something in number of tankers really drives the point home. After further calculations of water lost through various sources, a much smaller, but still substantial figure is obtained. Then the consumption of water for people, animals and agriculture is calculated.
Using data collected by Wasundhara Sevaks (WOTR trained youth from the community) using GIS and GPS systems, the water consumption of individual crops is calculated. This forms the basis for crop planning. If more water gets spent on the kharif crop, then the crop pattern for the rabi crop needed to be changed accordingly so that water can be conserved.
SAMPLE WATER BUDGETING INFORMATION PUT UP IN THE VILLAGE:
Total available water
Run-off and evaporation
Gross available water
Water required for drinking
Water required for Crops
Total Water Requirement
The water budgeting table is put up in prominent places in the village, so the whole community can see the accounting of their water. Accordingly, a 4-year plan can be formulated, at the end of which, the Water Budgeting tool will ensure that the village never lacks water, or is at least prepared for an imminent drought situation.
The aim of WOTR’s Waterbudgeting tool is:
Let us for once, treat water as a limited resource fund and not as a free, unlimited grant from nature. This will ensure:
a) Optimum utilisation of available water resources without strain on the eco system
b) Tanker-free villages
Most traditional farming systems had an inbuilt basic harmony with the water cycle and common community sense. There were crops which were grown in particular seasons and particular soil and climate types. Kharif and rabi were not merely time of harvests but the cycle of seasons, in the agricultural year, in the life of a farmer, in the nutrition of a nation. They brought with them a particular cuisine, culture and economy, which regulated everything from festivals and food to soil nutrients and the water table.
Now there are no rules. Today, we pride ourselves that we can grow water guzzling crops in deserts. But only when one starts valuing ‘freely’ available natural resources like water, does the real cost become clear. Using this simple budgeting tool on resources other than money, one can calculate the real profitability of home, agriculture, industry. The balance sheet might shock us.