CORP Seminar on 'Decentralised Community Management of Water Resources and Supply Systems'

Ramesh Kumar Sama
Tuesday, 17 September 2019 03:00 PM - Tuesday, 17 September 2019 04:30 PMAdd to Calendar 2019-09-17 09:30:00 2019-09-17 11:00:00 Title Description Location SCI-FI Asia/Kolkata public
Conference Hall, Centre for Policy Research, Dharam Marg, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi - 110021
Community of Research and Practice (CORP)

The unprecedented focus on sanitation from the last five years has been recently complemented by the ‘new’ Indian water agenda. Amid flare-ups of regional water crisis and floods, the incumbent government announced two new programmes focused on water access and security. As the policy discourse evolves, it will be important to recognize that supply augmentation, demand management, and recycle of wastewater would all contribute in varying measures to the solution. The last of these would require sustained Fecal Sludge and Septage Management (FSSM) and graywater management, given the strong dependence of rural and urban India on non-networked sanitation. However, the suitability and potential of these different inroads to the water problem can only be assessed by determining the prevailing water supply landscape. 

Being an agrarian country, irrigation is the largest user of India’s water reserve, consuming a whopping 78% of the total water reserve, followed by the domestic sector (6%) and industries (5%) (Press Information Bureau 2013). Across these users, ground water is a crucial resource – making up 45% of irrigation and 80% of domestic water supplies. 

Water supply from external sources can at best be a supplement to ensure the supply of quality water fit for drinking purposes, but is equally vulnerable to unequal, inadequate distribution and, uncertain supply at the tail end. Ultimately, the household demand for water must be managed through integrating local supply. Unfortunately, the urban water supply in country is increasingly dependent on water import from distant sources. Most of the towns, cities, and metropolitan areas are seeking ever expanding demands on such supply, which could lead to rural-urban divide becoming more profound, posing significant conflicts. 

There is an immediate need to hold municipalities accountable to value water, distribute it efficiently, augment water harvesting sources, and treat and reuse wastewater. Water is not valued till users pay for the water they use. Without measuring the water flow in pipes at every stage of distribution, efficient management is unsustainable. In the absence of it, leakages become the main reason for inefficiency and wastage, and thus the system pays a very high cost for the inefficient distribution. Historically, the vertical program and the ‘supply driven service model,' viewed as a humble recipient of state-generated largesse has been challenging to reverse. The solution to the groundwater crisis lies in micro-level water management practiced by decentralised communities. Therefore, bottom-up planning plays a vital role in assuring water security. 

Against this background, the CORP seminar would elucidate the decentralized community management of water resources and supply systems as adopted by the Water and Sanitation Management Organisation (WASMO), Government of Gujarat. Through these deliberations, we hope to be more attuned to the challenges of subsidiarity-led management and cull out ground-driven insights to better inform the multi-faceted planning that urban and rural water security will need in the time to come.

The seminar will commence with a 45-minute presentation followed by a 45-minute discussion.

About the Speaker

Ramesh Kumar Sama is a former Project Director, Water and Sanitation Management Organisation (WASMO), Government of Gujarat. WASMO has established a decentralised community managed water supply system in around 14000 villages in the state of Gujarat. He was a part of the team which pioneered social forestry in the country during his tenure in the Indian Forest Service. He was instrumental in preparing the strategy for drought proofing and grounded watershed development approach in Gujarat.

He has authored many books and evaluation reports on various Natural Resource Management issues. More recently, he has authored a book titled 'Footprints of Development' which recounts his fifty-five year long journey in Natural Resource Management.

He is presently a trustee of DHRUVA and GRISERV (BAIF) and SHROFFS Foundation Trust, Vadodara. These foundations work for tribal development.

The seminar is open to all and will be followed by tea and snacks.

You are requested to RSVP at

CORP Seminar Series
This is the 20th in a series of the Community of Research and Practice (CORP) seminar hosted by the Scaling City Institution for India: Sanitation (SCI-FI: Sanitation) initiative with the support of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF). This seminar series seeks to provide a platform for discussing the experiences of the researchers and practitioners on urban sanitation. 

Scaling City Institutions for India: Sanitation (SCI-FI): Sanitation is a research programme at the Centre for Policy Research (CPR) on inclusive and sustainable urban sanitation. In the programme, we seek to understand the reasons for poor sanitation, and to examine how these might be related to technology and service delivery models, institutions, governance and financial issues, and socio-economic dimensions. The programme seeks to support national, state and city authorities develop policies and programmes for intervention with the goal of increasing access to safe and sustainable sanitation in urban areas. The SCI-FI: Sanitation programme is  funded by the BMGF.