GRASS ROOT CAPACITY BUILDING IN ECO-HYDROLOGY

Capacity building of common people in predicting consequences of hydrological and ecological changes is pertinent in conservation of water resources and ecology.

Science Communication is a paradigm that integrates nature, people, theories and reality for better understanding the natural processes and can enable people to make intelligent and informed decisions. With a view to enabling people, communities and institutions of local self governance with requisite scientific tools for informed participation, science communication takes a pertinent role. It starts with awareness generation and community level mapping and data generation that culminates into application of knowledge for decision support.

In the existing framework field level hydroecological data are generated by government departments and research institutions. These data are highly macro level and seldom addresses the issues at grass roor level. The methodology and materials used for public awareness are generic and often more technical to be comprehended by the common people. It is felt that if people from grass root level are involved in local level ecohydrological data generation and awareness building of common people that would focus more on local water related issues and would enhance people’s advocacy and participation in the IWRM.

The theoretical framework involves stakeholders from different sectors of the society. It is also felt that in villages neither the elected representatives nor the community as a whole are capable of handling complex natural systems or ecological entity unless they are properly trained. In this initiative the basic objective was to develop

  1. A cadre of master instructors for leading campaign and data generation activities.
  2. A cadre of field level enumerators
  3. Institutional system create social mobilisation on hydroecology

Organisational framework

For implementing science communication activities a strong and vibrant organisation framework is required. It involves a funding agency and a central organisation that would provide the main resource and management support. The organisational framework comprises of a state level organisation that mobilises fund and knowledge resource, prepares resource materials, design the communication link to transmit knowledge to the grass root level. A mid level organisation is required that would be comprised of master instructors with knowledge of sub basin specific issues on ecohydrology. They are made capable of organising grass root level groups and train them. The Conceptual model of the organisational framework is given in figure 1.

Science Communication Framework and curriculum

The tools used to communicate science are extensive. There are physical meetings, such as science festivals and fairs. There are public lectures and debates, social and mass media, exchange schemes, public consultation, international networks, intergovernmental dialogue etc. The education module should communicate and apply the major ecological concepts including those focusing on individuals, species populations, communities, ecosystems, etc. Successful awareness and capacity building need, apart from organisational framework a comprehensive curriculum which has both theoretical and action programme components. The objectives are acheived through books, literature and popular media like posters, street drama, festivals etc and capacity building through workshops and field based training for data generation.

Toolkit

Development of the toolkit is the task of experts comprising of hydrologists and geologists of state department, university teachers, NGO organisers, writers and designers. The toolkit includes:

Books: Books are important resource materials for science communication. For a complex subject like ecohydrlogy a lucid, comprehensive resource and activity guidebook can cover half of the task for educated volunteers.

Posters: Posters are very good science communication material for awareness generation of the public.

Data collection and reporting forms: The fundamental measure of community level capacity building was their ability to measure and monitor hydrological units. The task at grass root level was to identify hydrological units and collect water monitoring and other data in prescribed forms.

Technology Transfer State level workshops impart the basic scientific concepts of ecohydrology, organisational framework and procedures for formation of groups, activity schedules and reporting protocol. At every phase of the programme technical inputs and expert support are important.

Ground level Action programme

The ground level action programme is comprised of a series of activities that starts with awareness building and community participation. The resource materials and popular media of science communication are utilised. The activities involved are broadly:

i) Awareness Programmes/outreach

ii) Ecohydrological Monitoring

1. Periodical measure of groundwater level and quality from selected wells.

2. Periodical measure of water volume of ponds and stream flow (if applicable) by simple methods.

3. Preparing thematic resource maps by using cadastral maps as base maps.

4. Household survey on water use and prepare household water budget.

5. Preparation of a status report.


Development of toolkit and the resource books make major achievement in the knowledge sharing system. The action programmes including awareness building and door to door survey generate ownership and motivation in participating in various action programmes. Mapping and thematic spatial and nonspatial data generation empowered the community to participate in the decision making process. Science communication can make emphatic intervention in this direction.