Monday, December 23, 2013

Climate Variability and Change and its impact on the Water security in Andhra Pradesh

A capacity building workshop, the first in a series of three was conducted on “Climate Variability and Change and its impact on the Water security in Andhra Pradesh” from 3rd to 4th December,2013. The workshop was jointly organized by SaciWATERs with IWMP, Andhra Pradesh with support from Water Aid and UK AID. Project officers, Technical Officers and Junior Engineers of Watershed and Rural Development department participated in the workshop. 7 female and 31 male district officials participated in this one and half days’ workshop.
Dr. Anjal Prakash, Executive Director, SaciWATERsdelivered the welcome speech and briefly introduced the participants to the workshop objectives and outcomes.
The first session on Climate variability, climate change and water- a conceptual understanding was conducted by Dr. Anjal Prakash. After a brief introduction about himself, he began the lecture with defining ‘Climate Change’. The lecture began with the introduction to the definition of Climate Change according to IPCC. The lecture gave an insight on the Greenhouse effect, the cause for Climate Change with a pictorial depiction.  Differences between weather/climate and climate variability/change were highlighted for clear understanding of the climate change issues. Global warming phenomenon over the decades caused the changes in precipitation, rise in sea levels, changes in plant lifecycles, less snow and ice, more droughts and wildfires, heatwaves, decline in crop yields and damaged coral reefs. Extreme weather events pose the risk of abrupt and irreversible changes.  These changes have impact on all sectors like agriculture, power, habitats, water systems, water usage and quality.
Climate tipping point, the transgression of the safe limits in 10 life sustaining biophysical systems is risking potentially irreversible changes. Deforestation for livelihoods and urbanization, and transportation together release 20% of carbon emissions around the globe. Major and unpredictable changes on world’s water systems lead to decreased agricultural yields and income impacting the food security at local and global level. Poorer sections are more dependent on agriculture/fishing etc for livelihood and are vulnerable to change. Displacement and conflict result from floods and droughts. Evaluation of participants’ understanding included a question and answer session of 10 minutes and pictorial depiction of Greenhouse Effect.
Climate Change and its impact on Water Scenario in Andhra Pradesh:
Ms.SrideviAdivi, a consultant on watsan gave the lecture on the current scenario in Andhra Pradesh. The session detailed the India water supply and demand gap with reasons. Extreme events are more frequent, more intense and widespread in India. GHG emissions enhancing the negative effects propagated for adaptation strategies to be developed. Implementation of strategies, mitigation of after effects, reduction of GHG emissions are planned while tackling the rapid economic growth and development of the nation.  Essential components of the National Action Plan for Climate Change namely the eight missions were briefed. 
Weather map of Andhra Pradesh, water resources, schemes for drinking water supply and quality of the water supplied were detailed. Extreme weather conditions impacting the water scenario was explained with the occurrences of extreme events in 2013 namely heatwaves, floods, droughts and cyclones Phallin, Helen and Lehar. Water quantity, quality, agriculture and food security were impacted causing loss of livelihoods, displacement and loss of lives. To mitigate and tackle the effects of Climate Change, the state of Andhra Pradesh drafted the State Action Plan for Climate Change. The objectives of SAPCC were briefed followed by implemented adaptation measures and interventions to prevent loss of lives. The lecture was followed by a discussion of 10 minutes.
Rural Drinking Water Supply:
Dr. Snehalatha, an expert on rural drinking water supply started the session with discussing issues of water supply in the state. The state is facing challenges like drying bore wells, depleting levels, poor quality and irregular supply timings of piped water supply, inequitable distribution, improper implementation and improper utilization of resources.  Dr. Snehalathabriefly explained coverage and habitation statistics of Andhra Pradesh. Total habitations in Andhra Pradesh are 72176 and only 39319 are covered completely with water supply. Only 29308 habitations are partially covered of which 3549 have quality issues. Fluoride, arsenic, iron, salinity and nitrate contaminations or levels are found in the supply.
The lecture reinforced the fact that water norms exist but are not followed even in case of arid region like Ananthapur. An approximate of 4, 64,100 handpumps have been installed in the State and 51 water testing labs were established with an expenditure of Rs.1 crore each. Yet district like Chittoor has water supply only through 1500 water tankers, every day. Water testing kits for ground level monitoring of quality has been distributed to the Panchayats for monitoring the quality at local level.    The statistics show that Andhra Pradesh is ahead with coverage of habitations compared to the national coverage of drinking water supply.According to the Supreme Court Directive, schools and anganwadishave to be provided with drinking water and sanitation facilities. Despite extending the deadline four times, the state lacks 100% coverage.
To overcome the challenge of sustainability, Village Water Sanitation Committees were established. Increased funding over the five year plans resulted in minimal growth and the nominal services of water supply and quality are still poor. Guidelines exist for release of funds, monitoring progress, evaluation and for O&M but in reality are not followed by the departments. 6% of village data is missing. Alack of coordination between departments leads to improper utilization of funds and delay of projects.
She completed the lecture reiterating the fact that watershed is very important for recharging and even the water from RO plants is polluted.
Role and responsibilities of different Stakeholders in Water Security:
Mr.AllaBaksh, the Executive Engineer from Rural Water Supply Sanitation Department was the resource person for this lecture. He introduced the lecture with the objectives of water security as availability of sufficient quantity of water at convenient times during all seasons by maintaining good quality. The existing system has a top down approach for water supply involving different stakeholders like the Engineer and village representatives with lack of community involvement.Insufficient funding and understaffed departments are resulting in poor service levels and O&M leading to agitation. The local bodies are unhappy with the technology, design, quality and linked issues causing failure of O&M system leading to agitation.
Absence of community involvement is attributed to lack of awareness on roles and responsibilities of community, water quality, effect on health, promoting water quality and water handling. Community involvement is essential for construction, service and sustainability of drinking water supply. Autonomous system is excellent compared to the existing government system. The graph below ranks the service levels depending on the responsibilities and involvement of community. Communities need support to organize themselves as a group, bear part of capital cost if feasible, plan, execute and own the drinking water supply and take responsibility of future O&M. Government orders promoting community participation and defined roles of various PRI representatives are yet to promote community involvement on a full scale.NGOs, ASHA workers, IKP workers, Bharat Nirman volunteers, Anganwadi workers, school teachers and secretary are to support the GP/ Sarpanch in community mobilization.  He detailed the list of officials/public representatives and their responsibilities at State, District, Mandal and Gram Panchayat level. He ended the lecture by stating that community managed system is the“sustainable system”.
Role of IWMP
Dr.Suvarna, Special Commissioner (WS, RD) gave a lecture on the importance of IWMP in water security. The session started with a question on how watershed is related to Climate Change. The lecture/talk that followed answered this question.  Everything and everyone are dependent on water in a community.  Rivers, groundwater and even the soil moisture/insituareall sources of water.  Rainfall recharges these and the climate change is affecting the pattern of rainfall.  Currently, crop pattern is dependent on rainfall and farmers follow this blindly. Farmers are not educated by the departmental officials so lack awareness on new cropping patterns persists. In developed countries, right cropping to adapt to climate changes is applicable with the scientific knowledge and technology is available. New cropping pattern and water requirements have to be advised to the farmers for better yield and to tackle climate change. Groundwater is interconnected network and AP WALTA exists to prevent illegal and excessive withdrawal of water. But we still follow the old British Colonial rule of “Water in my land belongs to me”.  Among the 190 countries using groundwater as a source, 10 countries are overdrawing water and India is ranked first.
Departments only work to achieve their targets and absence of coordination affects projects and communities. Projects are based on the availability of funds, they cease when funds evaporate hence sustainability is a major challenge.  As departmental staff of IWMP, the participants were asked to share this knowledge among communities and PRIs for effective coordination and water management. They were asked to change the mindset and take the responsibility to help farmers tackle climate change.
Second day began with the enactment of the skit. The roleplay introduced with the challenges faced by farmers due to climate change.
Village Water Security Plan:
Mr.Murali, Secretary for MARI and Convener for FANSA, explained that existing national and state level strategies are dependable and adept yet awareness at lower levels is absent. The session began with a discussion on basics of water. Participants shared varying terms and words associated with water.  Water is the ‘Elixir of life’, body is made up of 75% water, while 90% of blood and 75% of brain is water. Quality is a major issue so Reverse Osmosis plants are installed in offices and households and we prefer mineral water.
Agricultural sector is dependent on water and is to be based on certain policies. The details on water requirements for crops, usage of pesticides/fertilizers, what and which crops to be planted etc., should be posted on the Ministry of Agriculture website. These norms can aid against the excess usage of fertilizers/pesticides, effective water use and better yields. Watershed is essential for proper water availability and management in agriculture.Watershed implementation is important for complete ecosystem. Water security includes both quantity and quality; absence of pollution and threat.
As mentioned by Ban-Ki-moon, the next world war would be for water. But in reality, water war has already begun among neighbors, communities, states and nations. Predictions by UN indicate that 47% of world’s population will be living in seriously water stressed areas by 2030. In reality, the available water sources can meets the demands of the population density at that time. Quality is becoming a perennial issue with industries/commercial establishments contaminating rivers and lakes by releasing chemicals and pollution by individuals too. Over drafting/excessive withdrawal of groundwater to supply through tankers negatively impacts the quality of water.
Why Water Security:
Inequity, exclusion and marginalization alongwith quantity and quality plague the water supply system. Water has a “Bearing on Right to Life”. When government fails to supply water, people are denied their “Right to Life”.  Water security plan is necessary and important to overcome these challenges to accessibility and supply.
Mr. Murali explained ecosystem and environmental system in detail. The concept of water security as “Reliable access to water of sufficient quantity and quality for basic human needs, small-scale livelihoods, production and local ecosystem services, coupled with a well-managed risk of water-related disasters” was stated.  The focus of NRWDP launched in 2009 by GOI focuses on ensuring drinking water security to all rural citizens of India and livestock even during floods and droughts. Water Security Plan’s essential elements are:
  • Accessibility
  • Quality
  • Quantity
  • Affordability
  • Equity and Justice
  • Sustainability
  • Harmony and
  • Risk Reduction
Demand and availability has to be balanced with some principles of equity and sustainability. The broader approach to WSP is a cyclic process of

  1. Ongoing assessment to access, demand, availability, quality and risk:
  2. Bargaining/ Negotiations
  3. Codification is to align the behavior according to
  4. Delegation : Sharing of responsibilities
  5. Enhancing and mobilization efforts
And involves these 5 phases:

  • preparatory,
  • planning,
  • implementation,
  • O&M,
  • Monitoring, audit and reporting
Water budgeting is important for conservation, especiallyby balancing demand and availability and for water-use efficiency.  He briefly listed the key challenges of the water security plan as Data and its reliability, availability of the Human and financial Resources, mobilization of Community participation, local sensitivities, convergence and alignment of ongoing schemes, capacity and collective conviction to implement, climate variation and unprecedented changes, disasters.
He concluded the lecture stating that active community participation, change in the mindset among departmental officials and proper coordination among departments can help in overcoming the challenges and successful implementation of water security plan.
Participants were given a case study to attempt water budgeting and planning for a community. With availability of basic parameters, water security planning is feasible responded the participants.
The workshop concluded with participants overall positive view of the course content and importance to their work area. The next two workshops are scheduled for January and February 2014.