MARVI: Managed Aquifer
The Dharma of Water
In the MARVI project, we used a ‘transdisciplinary research’ approach (different from multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches). The approach is basically understanding and developing the science of groundwater management through a team approach. In this project, we had researchers from different disciplines (irrigation, hydrology, hydrogeology, social science, economics, agronomy, soil science, rural development etc.) and each one of them contributed their unique expertise in the broad area of groundwater management but at the same time they worked outside their own disciplines. This way we endeavoured to understand the complexities of the whole project, rather than one part of it. Overall, the transdisciplinary approach allowed the researchers in the project to go beyond their own disciplines to inform one another’s work, capture the complexity of groundwater management and helped them to create a new understanding beyond individual disciplines as to what is happening with groundwater at the village level and beyond.
To manage groundwater, modelling and assessment tools were developed so that they can be reliably used with easily available local information. The study areas of MARVI are Aravali district in Gujarat and Udaipur district in Rajasthan, India. Both districts are in hard rock aquifer areas and provide a diversity of transdisciplinary issues in groundwater recharge and management.
The project involved local farmers, called Bhujal Jankaars (a Hindi word meaning ‘groundwater informed’), and they were trained in groundwater, rainfall and check dam monitoring in 5 villages in Rajasthan and 6 in Gujarat, see photo book. They assisted in research, gained a shared understanding of their groundwater system to provide a basis for cooperative groundwater management at the village level and developed strategies for sustaining the groundwater resource and maximizing its productivity. Key outputs of the MARVI project ready for outscaling are:
Bhujal Jankaar (BJ) approach for engaging local farmers to monitor groundwater level, rainfall, checkdam and water quality for managing and sharing groundwater at the village level;
MyWell app, available in Androids, iOS and web
versions, for collecting and visualising groundwater level, rainfall amount, checkdam water level data through SMS or smart phone and using it for making groundwater management decisions;
Training resources for capacity building of BJs, and government agencies involved groundwater management; and
Groundwater literacy resources for school and village communities in English, Hindi and Gujarati languages.
The project ‘Managing Aquifer Recharge and Sustaining Groundwater Use through Village-level Intervention’, MARVI was conducted during 2012 - 2017 with the support of the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR). Key partners of this project are Western Sydney University, CSIRO Land & Water, International Water Management Institute, Development Support Centre, Arid Communities and Technologies, Maharana Pratap University of Agriculture and Technology and Vidya Bhawan Krishi Vigyan Kendra.
MARVI's focus was to develop an effective participatory groundwater monitoring program at village level, assess the effectiveness of current rainwater harvesting and groundwater recharge structures and develop demand management strategies that will make the groundwater use sustainable.