The word watershed refers to a “contiguous area draining into a single water body or a water course” or “it is a topographical area having a common drainage”. This means that the rainwater falling on an area coming within a ridgeline can be harvested and will flow out of this area thorough single point. Some refer it as a catchment area or river basin. The watershed's drainage system consists of a network of rivers, streams, constructed channels, stormdrains, wetlands, and the underlying groundwater. The diagram below suggests a typical watershed that starts with small headwater streams in the higher elevations of the drainage basin. Water flows downhill from the drainage divide into larger streams, eventually joining a river. As more tributary streams join the river, the volume of water increases. This river eventually flows downstream into an even larger river at the confluence.
Development of watershed area based on type of soil, depth of soil, vegetative cover, harvestable rain water in that area and watering that area and water budgeting and treatment given to soils from the ridge to the valley. It is not a simple word. The term watershed development encompasses additional dimensions like equity, sustainability, gender and peoples participation. It has become a trusted tool for the overall development of the village and people living within a watershed area. Watershed development refers to the conservation regeneration and the judicious use of all the resources – natural ( like land, water plants, animals) and human – within the watershed area. Watershed Management tries to bring about the best possible balance in the environment between natural resources on the one side and man and animals on the other. Since it is the man who is primarily responsible for degradation of environment, regeneration and conservation can only be possible by promoting awakening and participation among the people who inhabit the watersheds.
Man and his environment are interdependent. The changes in the environment directly affect the lives of the people depending on it. A degraded environment means a degraded quality of life of the people. Environmental degradation can be tackled effectively through the holistic development of the watershed. A watershed provides a natural geo-hydrological unit for planning any developmental initiative.
1. To mitigate the adverse effects of drought on crops and livestock.
2. To control desertification
3. To encourage restoration of ecological balance / To promote economic development of village community.
Opinion of Watershed Experts
In the words of eminent economist, C.H.Hanumantha Rao “Watershed development has been conceived basically as a strategy for protecting the livelihoods of the people inhabiting the fragile ecosystems experiencing soil erosion and moisture stress”. Watershed Development Programme aims at creating a scenario where the Government acts as a facilitator and the people at the grass root level become the real executioner of the programme.
Benefits of Watershed Methodology
1.The crop yield has increased in dry land farming .
2.The soil loss due to erosion was brought down
3.Large extents of barren hill slopes was covered by vegetation.
4.Large tracts of marginal lands brought under dry land Horticulture
5.Development of Agro-Horti and Agro-Forestry systems.
6.Water resources were harvested through nala bunds, farm ponds, gully embankments
7.Regeneration of grass lands for more fodder and grass.
8.The income of farmers increased considerably.
Objectives of Watershed Development Programmes
- Improve the productive potentials of selected watersheds and their associated natural resource base.
- Sustainable alleviation of Poverty.
- Develop and strengthen community based institutional arrangements for sustainable natural resource management
- Improved skills and employment opportunities for non-farm sectors
- Involvement of village communities in participatory planning, implementation, social and environmental management, maintenance of assets and to operate in a more socially inclusive manner.