Watershed can be defined as an independent hydro-logical unit based on the principle of proper management of all the precipitation by way of collection, storage and efficient utilization of run-off water and use of groundwater that discharge to and receive discharge from streams, wetlands, ponds and lakes. It comprise of

  1. A catchment area (recharge zone),
  2. A command area (transition zone) and
  3. A delta area (discharge zone). \

While looking land and water management certain things are obvious:

1. Land and water management can’t be taken in isolation i.e. we need comprehensive land-water management, management of upstream conditions, management of forests.

2. In land-water management, we can’t pursue conservation policy as the land-water are dynamic entities and are interdependent on each other.

3. Any natural system is in context of man and his activities. Man activities can’t be ignored in water, soil and forest management. Man is equally part of ecosystem as any other natural system.

It is watershed concept which deals with all three aspects and try  to balance between nature system and compulsion of human activities. This concept is more relevant to any nature based planning. It includes biotic and abiotic components with their interrelationships & interdependency, this justifies that watershed is an ecosystem. The fundamentals of watershed therefore are based on  4Es’: Ecology, Employment, Economy, Equity. 

Examples of Watershed

• Concept of social forestry and agro forestry

• Concept of agro climatic based agri development

• All examples of rain water harvesting to meet local demands & drinking water

• Aravali project in Alwar by Rajendra Singh under Tarun Bharat Sangh

• Sukomajri project in Haryana

• Ralegaon Sidhi by Anna Hazare


Constraints of watershed management:
• Building and strengthening competent govt. organisations, NGOs and community based organisations. This is needed as the technical competence of most social organisations is weak.

• It has been observed that most of the successful watershed programs in India have been implemented on a small scale in a few villages. These projects were successful as the participant organisations devoted time and resources. Need is to develop competence at local level to harness the actual potential.

• Mobilizing local financial resources as the budget provided by the govt is insufficient to carry out adequate watershed management work.

• The main problems for monitoring and evaluating projects are the lack of baseline data, impact data and common monitoring guidelines.

• Decentralisation of govt schemes is necessary as the future role of state govt and line departments in watershed management is not clear.

• The equal distribution of costs and benefits between landless and resource poor people and better-off farmers needs intensive facilitation. The rights of users to forests and common lands need to be made clearer.

(Participation of communities, involvement of local population is the necessary precondition in effective intervention for land-water-forest management.)


Components of a watershed:

• Natural physiography of region that gives the river its catchment area.
• River or drainage itself including the surface runoff that drains at a common point
• All the system & processes that maintain and recharge hydrological flow- rainfall and underground water resources
• The upstream or upslope forest and vegetation that maintains the character of flow.
• The local communities that depend on these natural systems
• Their activities such as agri, fishing.


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