T.S. Ranganna

`The increased focus from the bank and the Government was key to the project's turnaround'

  • The project was launched in 2002
  • It is aimed at helping people improve their lives

    Bangalore: The World Bank has commended the State Government for putting the Karnataka Watershed Development Project back on track. The project is aimed at helping village communities in six of the poorest rain-fed districts improve their lives.

    The bank, in its report, said that the project was actually at risk of not meeting its development goal, but the Government succeeded in putting it on track. It helped train villagers in watershed management, thus aiding them to improve agricultural productivity and their incomes.

    Launched in 2002, the project had a slow start. Three years of continuous drought also meant that farmers were unable to make their contribution for the planned civil works.

    The bank's mid-term review in the previous year took a hard look at the project and restructured it based on lessons learned from the first phase.

    According to the project's task leader Grant Milne, "this increased and persistent focus from the bank and the Government was key to the project's turnaround."

    Participatory watershed projects were by nature large and complex. Hence, they required close monitoring, and most importantly a collaborative team that was willing to openly identify and address issues as they arose, he said.

    The bank was happy that the Karnataka Watershed Development Project was fully operational with local villagers participating in the management of their natural resources through 742 watershed sanghas, 6,646 self-help groups and 4,394 area groups. Soil and water conservation works were in full swing and the first phase was showing results household income had increased by 20 per cent. Cropping intensity and yields were up by 12 per cent and 15 per cent respectively, groundwater yields had increased by between 250 and 275 gallons per hour and 15,000 to 20,000 mandays of employment had been generated. However, despite the best of efforts, some projects remained bedevilled with problems.