Speaker: Prof. Basant Maheshwari
Over the last 50 years, groundwater use for irrigation has increased dramatically and was instrumental in India’s green revolution in the 1970s. As such, groundwater played a major role in making the country food sufficient and improving the livelihoods of over 260 million small-scale farmers. However, this remarkable achievement came at the cost of increased pressure on groundwater resources, and now the annual groundwater pumping in many areas of the country far exceeds the annual monsoonal recharge. As such, India has now become the world’s largest user of groundwater, and the groundwater levels have been dropping across the country. The top-down approach of the Government so far has failed to stop the ongoing decline in groundwater levels.
This webinar shares his experiences from the MARVI project, Managing Aquifer Recharge and Sustaining Groundwater Use through Village-level Intervention, particularly how villagers can be transformed into local groundwater champions through training and capacity building and empowering them to develop their solutions for groundwater sustainability. One of the significant achievements in this project was the development and implementation of the MyWell app to facilitate groundwater and rainfall data collections and visualization. The session will discuss how MyWell evolved and what the future holds for it to share data and make groundwater use and sharing decisions at the village level and also, how the village level MARVI approach can be out-scaled in other parts of India and beyond.
Bio of Speaker:
Professor Basant Maheshwari is a professor in water, environment, and sustainability at Western Sydney University. He has over 30 years’ teaching, research, and outreach experience and his current research have a particular focus on water resources modeling; groundwater monitoring and management; urban water; river health; irrigation; water education, engagement, and capacity building; environmental sustainability; and water for livelihood and wellbeing.
He is passionate about understanding the social, economic, cultural, policy, and institutional aspects of water management, and engaging communities, governments, and other stakeholders to address local and regional water issues. His efforts have focussed on valuing the role of people and working with them for the change. Also, his work emphasizes that complex water and environmental problems require well designed simple solutions that will result in situation improvement and livelihood improvements.
During the last ten years, Professor Maheshwari’s work has involved a trans-disciplinary approach to water research and led a project called, MARVI, related to groundwater management, www.marvi.org.in in Rajasthan and Gujarat. The project is focussed on understanding how groundwater, farmers, and other stakeholders in watershed interact and influence water security at the village level. His research examined the implications of social, economic, cultural, policy, and institutional aspects of groundwater management. The work from the MARVI led to the signing of the MOU with Jal Shakti Ministry in 2019 and the MARVI approach is now being outscored in other states of India.
Professor Maheshwari has more than 240 publications to his name, including over 110 articles in peer-reviewed, international journals, and led several major externally funded research projects Australia, Asia, and Africa.