Sunday, November 13, 2011

Some More Insights from Field

Having started from August for the household questionnaire, its November with the household questionnaire survey going on. It’s yet to enter into analysis part of the findings. However with regular visits to Matatirtha some impression on the general perception of the local people regarding dynamism of water management under the pressure of urbanization and climate change has been gathered which definitely need further evaluation.

In Matatirtha, people are more satisfied with the current water service that has been available at the household level. This beautiful place had historically been and still is water supplier for urban dwellers and the neighboring water deficit VDCs. However, the situation of the people living in uphill side of this sloping land was that people had to walk downhill to fetch themselves with gagris (mostly used traditional water carrying pot) of water in doko (traditional basket) and now with several community initiated water management schemes working in the area, people have easy availability of water and it is more in a stage of development regarding its water management issue. However the booming problem of this area is growing water entrepreneurs which has been tried by VDC to regulate but not yet achieved desired target.  In one hand, this has been a growing concern of water experts, while on the other majorities of the surveyed local people and local livelihood have rarely been stressed. Even the local government with lots of power play involved, has not been able to enforce strict action concerning the regulatory part. Interestingly,  there has been growing a silent  acceptance that water facilities for local is going to be difficult in not so far future as indicated by connecting their households with private taps despite easy access of public taps. Similarly having connection to multiple taps from different community initiated water schemes for future water security and growing numbers of private wells seems relevant preparations. The changing water management practices at the household level is depicted through growing water storing practices for which plastic tanks have been most preferred. Does it reflect the changing livelihood which has altered their water management practice?

Household water management responsibility has been quite well shared among male and female members in most of the surveyed households which as per the elderly women complains used to be a real hardship for them. This could be because of increasing women working in the economic sectors, at the same time technological innovations for piped water service that has elicited this transformation. Unlike general expectation of male members involving in irrigation water management, the field practice was different. In the recent years, male members have been mostly involved in off-farm activities. In many cases, male members are unaware about the existing productive stage of their farms and hence, it is mostly the female members that address the questions.

Elderly people share the changing rainfall pattern and consequently declining water yield at the source. But due to good rain this year, it has been considerably improved. Most people shared their views regarding changing climate and declining water at the source though water services at the household level has improved. Though the rivers in Matatirtha are only seasonal but the discharge as per them has been consistently decreasing. The yield in the river used to be sufficient to run mills which now rarely exists for a week after rain is what they comment. Could it be due to increasing impermeable surface thereby reducing the time of concentration and causing peak run off to pass within short period after rain is what has been a question to be thought about.

Farm lands are declining with majorities of irrigated fields already transformed into land plots for new houses. Regarding switching from water demanding crops towards commercial farming, besides the climate conundrum, also the impact of urbanization resulting in the selling away of cultivable land and shading effect that have been additional concerns.  

Increasing constructions on the farmlands is a common site and "Khetala kasto mahango cha, logne manche lai ek din ko nai 500/- parcha, aimai lai 300/- tai pani khetala nai paidaina", a regular statement. This means the local labor working on farm have been demanding high wage but still its very difficult to get them. This could probably be due to increasing transportation facilities in this peri-urban land which in the past was limited within small periphery, with more easy access to outskirts has provided opportunities to expand the working areas resulting deviation away from agriculture towards more paid labor activities.

While household surveys are on the peak at the fields, peri-urban team at nec has also been joined by our new intern Lieke Melsen from Wageningen University. We welcome her and look forward to work together.

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