Building drought resilient watersheds

Publication Date: July 2018

India is a region of extreme climatic conditions and close to 70% of the country is classified as dry lands. These areas receive 80% of their annual water supply in a short span of 2 – 3 months in the monsoons, leading to drought-like conditions. In such a scenario, effective water and land management strategies that help build resilience in the region and ensure year-round water security for people and nature, are critical for India. We are working with partners to develop a comprehensive science-led drought resilience plan for the Devnadi watershed in Nashik district in Maharashtra. By demonstrating success through this pilot initiative, we aim to support the Maharashtra government and other stakeholders by informing drought resilience efforts across the state, which has been severely impacted by drought for consecutive years in the last decade.


Nature: India Rising

Publication Date: June 2018

Nature is The Nature Conservancy’s flagship quarterly magazine produced by the global office. The Summer 2018 issue carries a comprehensive feature story about The Nature Conservancy’s work in India along with a message from Mark Tercek, President and CEO of The Nature Conservancy.


Developing Climate Resilient Villages: Managing Water & Land to Tackle Drought

Publication Date: June 2018

For the past decade, several districts in Maharashtra have faced debilitating drought leading to deteriorating socio-economic and environmental conditions. The worst impacted are the farmer communities. Maharashtra has recorded the highest farmer suicide cases for the last three years due to crop failure and subsequent economic loss. As a drought resilience measure, the Maharashtra Government announced a state-wide policy “Gaalmukt Dharan, Gaalyukt Shivar Yojana” in 2017 to desilt more than 34,000 traditional water tanks over four years and improve their water storage capacity to ensure water availability during the dry season.

This report identifies guidelines for scientifically desilting water tanks and supports the government policy to achieve state-wide scale. These guidelines are an outcome of a field study conducted for 9 pilot desilting projects in the Marathwada region of Maharashtra. The field study, undertaken by Watershed Organisation Trust and The Nature Conservancy, was based on on-ground surveys, interviews with farmers and regional NGOs, and data analysis. Some of these guidelines have already been adopted by the Maharashtra Government and will be useful for any group involved in desilting water tanks in Maharashtra.

Download Download Policy Brief

The Evergreen Revolution

Publication Date: November 2017

Every year, more than 23 million tonnes of rice residue are burnt in the agriculture fields of northwest India, which contributes to more than 50% of Delhi’s air pollution in the winter months. There is a solution to this burning problem – an agricultural technology called the Happy Seeder. It is a win-win solution for farmers and the environment as it has been scientifically proven to improve farm yield, reduce input costs and eliminate the need to burn by enabling the rice residue to be utilised in the field itself. However, its adoption among farmers is slow.

This report outlines six recommendations that aim to address financial, economic, technological and behavioural barriers to the adoption of the Happy Seeder. Implementation of these recommendations can lead to a zero burning agriculture future by 2022. This report is an outcome of a series of stakeholder consultations among farmers, agricultural research institutions, agriculture service providers, manufacturers of agriculture equipment, governments and NGOs. Its findings will be useful to anyone designing a project on reducing crop residue linked air pollution.


Harnessing Nature’s Power for Urban Water Security

Publication Date: March 2017

By 2030, more than 600 million people in India will be living in cities, which will need to grow rapidly to accommodate such large migrations. In parallel, agriculture will continue to be important for rural development and India’s food security. Water, an already scarce resource, will need to be managed carefully to meet the demands of urban growth and agriculture.

This report is an analysis of 53 Indian cities that highlight the potential for increasing urban water security by protecting India’s water sources i.e. catchments or watersheds from where cities draw their water. Interventions in watersheds such as sustainable agricultural practices, reforestation, sustainable management of forests, conservation of wetlands, lakes and ponds in and around a city can increase the quantity of water and improve quality at a relatively low cost. The study establishes that 15 of 53 cities in India can fully offset the cost of conserving their watersheds by savings from decreased costs in water treatment. The study underlines the potential of strong watershed management programmes rooted in science to resolve the water crisis that confronts India.


Shared Challenges for Nature and People

Publication Date: February 2017

The goals of economic development and nature conservation are often seen as contradictory. However, a thriving nation needs both – a flourishing economy and a healthy planet. This report draws attention to the shared challenges facing nature and people, and thereby builds a strong case for pursuing economic development and nature conservation in parallel. It reveals that in India, nearly all top challenges to nature are linked to challenges for people. It points to a vicious cycle in the shared challenges, whereby degradation of nature impoverishes people, which in turn further accelerates degradation. Nature conservation has significant potential to address human health concerns related to sanitation, dietary risks, water-borne diseases and air pollution. The shared nature-people agenda emerging from this analysis can catalyse ongoing policy initiatives and lead to more effective outcomes by bringing about systemic change.


Compendium of Selected Speeches: Shri Narendra Modi

India is committed to “develop without destruction”. The Honourable Prime Minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi, has shown remarkable leadership in recognising the importance of environmental conservation while the nation strives to achieve its human development goals. He has repeatedly stated that conservation and development are not contradictory but complementary goals by articulating how India’s culture, traditions and beliefs are intimately linked to conservation.

This document is a compendium of speeches made by the Honourable Prime Minister to highlight his vision for a shared development and conservation agenda. The speeches cover a range of issues including sustainable development, climate change, water conservation, biodiversity protection, agricultural productivity and renewable energy. This compendium will serve as a useful reference for those involved in human development and environmental conservation alike, and inspire India to achieve long-term, resilient, equitable and sustainable development for all.


Restoring Chennai’s Wetlands

Rapid and unplanned development in Chennai has cost the city more than 85% of its lakes and wetlands, which have either disappeared or have been severely degraded. This has compromised the city’s resilience to storms, floods and droughts. We are working in partnership with Care Earth Trust and Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, to restore Chennai’s wetlands through science-based conservation solutions.


Addressing Air Pollution from Crop Residue Burning

Crop residue burning is a major source of air pollution in northwest India, where close to 23 million tonnes of rice residue are burnt annually. The Happy Seeder – an agricultural technology – has been scientifically identified as one of the most cost effective and scalable solutions to utilise rice residue in the field itself. We are working with our partners to promote the use of Happy Seeder among farmers in Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh.


Water Trust: Bringing People Together to Protect Water

Implementing conservation measures at the water source, i.e. catchment or watershed of a water body from where water is derived for various uses, can improve water quality and quantity at a low cost. We have developed a tool called Water Trust – a financial and governance mechanism – which enables long-term watershed conservation with the involvement of multiple stakeholders.