The Indo-German Watershed Development Programme (IGWDP) is an integrated programme for the rehabilitation of watersheds for the regeneration of natural resources. The programme was implemented by the Village Watershed Committees (VWC) - a body nominated by villagers, in association with Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). IGWDP, which was operationalized in December 1992 under the bilateral aid agreement between the German and Indian governments, was visualized and initiated in 1989 by Fr. Hermann Bacher of Social Centre, Ahmednagar, who has been the guiding spirit behind the programme.
The programme was undertaken with the objective of developing micro-watersheds in a comprehensive manner. The aim was to also create adequate and sustainable livelihood opportunities for the inhabitants of the project areas through participatory self-help initiatives. The programme was implemented in four states of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan. The project was carried out in Andhra Pradesh between 2007 and 2014. It sought to address the issues concerning the rehabilitation of degraded watersheds in the districts of Karimnagar, Medak, Warangal and Adilabad in the Telangana region of erstwhile Andhra Pradesh. Poverty Learning Foundation (PLF) acted as the resource organization in Andhra Pradesh.
The objectives of IGWDP were:
- To extensively develop micro-watersheds with a view to creating adequate and sustainable livelihood opportunities for the inhabitants of that area.
- To function as a catalyst to facilitate the formation of village groups which will restore the degraded environment through participatory self-help initiatives.
- To facilitate the birth and unfolding of a people’s movement for sustainable economic development along watershed lines.
- To stabilize and increase agricultural production, based on the resources in the villages, in a sustainable and equitable manner.
PLF, as a resource organization, played the crucial role of planning and coordinating the implementation of the programme and monitored its progress over the project period. PLF developed methodologies and tools for the identification of the poorest of the poor (PoP) to ensure that the intended beneficiaries benefited from the outcomes. PLF also provided the back-up support for the necessary groundwork for formulation of policies for watershed projects.
PLF's role as the primary resource organization for planning and project implementation was one of the first instances where an NGO hand-held a project through the entire process from planning to implementation. The unique approach followed by PLF in implementing the programme included identification of Poorest of Poor, focus on the livelihood component and provision of regular capacity building and back-up support, enabling formulation of policies for watershed projects. The project was one of the most successful watershed development projects, with 36 watersheds being completed, covering 41634 ha through the provision of various innovative practices including System of Rice Intensification (SRI), water budgeting and crop planning.
On the macro level, the successful implementation of the project resulted in developing watershed guidelines for the country. In particular, the innovative tool developed by PLF resulted in the inclusion of the very poor in the planning of projects. Various innovations like SRI, trench-cum-bund, etc., were also piloted, which are, in fact, currently being practiced in those areas.