Field Diary: Climate Change and Water Management (iAdapt)

Field Diary: Climate Change and Water Management (iAdapt)
Field Diary: Climate Change and Water Management (IAdapt)

To learn about this IDRC grant funded project on Integrated Rural Urban Water Management for Climate based Adaptations in Indian Cities (IAdapt), click here.

The IAdapt Initiative: a Comprehensive Toolkit for Water Management

The IAdapt initiative is a comprehensive toolkit for water management spearheaded in Vijayawada by Athena Infonomics. It includes several interventions including the RURBAN platform, which facilitates and incentivizes greater coordination and collaboration across stakeholders. Additionally, the IAdapt Initiative features:

  • a Catchment Management Plan (CMP), which, through a consultative process with the RURBAN platform, aims to foster a shift towards catchment based approaches in water management;
  • a decision support tool which was designed to sensitise RURBAN platform members to capture impacts of climate change and develop innovative project responses to meet water demand;
  • a compendium of financing sources which were developed to inform the RURBAN platform members on alternative sources of financing to support the CMP actions; and
  • capacity building to sensitise RURBAN platform members on planning for integrated water management.

Vijayawada: the Water Context

Stretching across the Krishna River, the Prakasham Barrage is one of the most iconic landmarks in Vijayawada. Coincidentally, it was also a project brought up by nearly all of the stakeholders our capstone team interviewed for an evaluation of the RURBAN platform. Across the board, stakeholders are dependent on water quality, supply, and infrastructure such as the Prakasham barrage to function. A key component of the larger IAdapt program, the RURBAN platform is an integrated governance mechanism for rural and urban stakeholders in Vijayawada. It also supports the surrounding villages in the Krishna district to promote collaboration between relevant stakeholders for improved decision making in water management.

Purpose of the Field Visit

The primary goal of the field research was to identify the potential barriers and opportunities for the continued operations and sustenance of a multi-stakeholder RURBAN platform.

Understanding Stakeholder Needs

At the state level, we met with the Andhra Pradesh Disaster Management Authority, Irrigation Department, and Pollution Control Board who coordinate with numerous other state and local agencies. At the district and city level, we conducted interviews with mandal 1 officers and various members of the Vijayawada Municipal Corporation who are responsible for water management in an urban context. On our final day in Vijayawada, we held a focus group with the rural water users association in a village in the Krishna District, as well as an interview with the panchayat 2 secretary. These discussions provided an understanding of water management institutions in the rural context. The interviews also reinforced the need for collaborative platforms such as RURBAN for integrated decision making. While each of the stakeholders had a firm grasp on their own mandates and needs, it became clear that they did not fully understand the water needs and challenges in the broader context. When it comes to issues such as water management, in which such a diverse number of groups have a stake, collaboration is essential in order to sustainably manage resources.

IDRC_AthenaInfonomics_iAdapt_Climate_Vijayawada

Recommendations and Sustainability

During the course of our research, we developed three key recommendations to aid in the sustainability of the RURBAN platform. Firstly, we recommended increasing the frequency of RURBAN platform meetings to improve communications and foster collaboration. Secondly, we recommend the incremental scaling up of the program from a local level to the state level to ensure lasting results. Finally, we recommend integrating the RURBAN platform into a governmental order. This would make collaboration and joint decision making an integral part of state, district, and village level mandates.

Footnotes:
1. Administrative division within a district
2. Village council

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Rachel Damery, Lindsey Fincham, Alexandra Hamilton, and Anuja Mohapatra
The authors are second year international development studies students from the George Washington University (GWU). They traveled to Chennai and Vijayawada to assess the sustainability and scalability of the RURBAN platform, an intervention implemented as part of the iAdapt initiative, implemented by Athena Infonomics and funded by IDRC as part of their final capstone project.