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    Cross Cultural Perspectives on Groundwater Based Institutions  


International Learning Workshop (ILW) on demand side management of groundwater had focused on the institutions as forum for promoting demand side management. Before we could share our own learning with the participants the ILW decided to have institutional perspectives of the countries from where the participants have come to join the learning workshop

Structured reports and presentations are one way of sharing the learning and Story telling is another way and considered as effective tool for expressing ones spontaneous feelings and learning. This was in this context that the facilitator Dr. Rajeshwar Mishra- a social psychologist by training, chose to use this tool to elicit cross cultural perspective on water based institutions from across the countries and cultures represented by the participants. The participants were, first, given the background of how and why institutions are important and then presented with one story from APFAMGS. The participants, subsequently, wrote stories from their respective countries and shared with others through their




presentation. Dr. David Kahler from World Education moderated the presentations using his non-formal education perspective in which story telling is an important tool.

Institutions are effective vehicles to take human initiatives forward. Andhra Pradesh Farmers Managed Groundwater Systems (APFAMGS) has been able to demystify scientific knowledge and technology cutting across social and economic hierarchies. Equity and justice in knowledge generation and application has been achieved in well over 638 villages of Andhra Pradesh where the farmers are exploring various innovations related to the groundwater. The innovations relate to economizing the use of water, suitable and sustainable cropping pattern considering the availability of water and technological options for sustainable use of groundwater. As tool and process, Non-formal and participative principles are applied in a self-evolving frame work as against a blue print frame work externally imposed.

All these programs, approaches, tools and processes have to be disseminated wider and farther in order to reach un-reached regions and geographies. This is being done through appropriate institutional frame work, which also evolved over time. Groundwater Management/Monitoring Committees (GMCs) are the basic institutions assuming the responsibilities of taking forward the programs, approaches and processes. This has helped in properly managing the programs and disseminating the learning. As the learning are spreading fast and the project coming to a completion there is a need to have larger institutional network where all the small basic village level institutions (GMCs) could converge with their diversities and innovation yet maintaining a common vision and mission. This net work has been visualized at the hydrological unit level and has been called as Hydrological Unit Network (HUN). As the project learnings are evolving they suggest need for larger mobilization, lobbying and policy integration around the project’s learning – approaches, programs and processes. A state level institutional frame work is gradually evolving into Andhra Pradesh Ground water Users Association (AGUA).

Going through the stories one may get to an interesting mosaic of institutional evolution in diverse contexts, dynamics of their graduation and growth and impact they have been able to create as human beings’ organized endeavor. The 17 stories from 14 countries including one from India have common threads-institutions have evolved in response to difficult and crises situations. Depending upon the support and synergy some of them have withered away while others have sustained the onslaught of various nature. In some cases states have supported the local institutions and integrated their learning into their policy others have survived and excelled on their own. Common to all the stories are the preference for community based institutions as vehicles to carry forward the aspirations of the local people.

We have tried to bring together all the stories for a shared learning and benefits of those who have not attended the learning workshop. It is our endeavor to disseminate the learning across culture and have a network of such institutional innovations which have worked toward strengthening community initiatives in bettering the life of the marginalized and the poor.

The authors of the stories have shown exemplary sense of purpose and there by supported our contention that the stories could express different aspects of their lives and societies. We would express our gratitude to them for their involvement and interest.

We would appreciate if the stories are read, the messages used and expanding initiatives made in the light of the learning from the respective stories.

Paul Raja Rao
Executive Director


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