World Water Day: Watershed moment towards better future initiated by Godrej

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India CSR News Network

MUMBAI: Observed on 22nd March each year, World Water Day is about initiating action to tackle the existing water crisis. As per UN estimates today, there are more than 663 million people living without a safe water supply near their home, and hence waste countless hours queuing or trekking to distant sources, and coping with the health impact of using contaminated water.

However, World Water Day shouldn’t be the only time people are thinking about saving water. Hence, Godrej group companies have demonstrated efforts to make water conservation a continuous priority under the sustainability strategy – Good & Green, which is driven by the ardent desire to help create an inclusive and green India.

Launched in 2011, it is one of the group’s four key imperatives for 2020. Godrej Good & Green is based on shared values – a principle that aligns business competitiveness and growth with social and environmental impact. As part of this vision, Godrej aims to become a water positive group by 2020. They follow 3R strategy – Reduce, Recycle and Reuse for water conservation across all the manufacturing units.

In 2016, Godrej Industries initiated two integrated watershed development projects in the drought prone regions of Beed & Osmanabad in Maharashtra. Watershed development involves restructuring of a valley to arrest or slow down rainfall and allow it to percolate into the soil. This helps in increasing the water table and availability of water for irrigation and domestic purposes. In regions dependent on agriculture, resultant higher water table ensures year-round cropping.

Covering more than 3,000 hectares, the project will help restore the ecological balance of the region.  The population in these villages largely belong to marginalized communities and this project will augment the livelihoods for over 2580 (1120 + 1460) farmer households. It will also directly impact people in Maharashtra.

Towards rejuvenating the environment, the group expects to restore close to three million kl of water per annum through these projects. The water could be made available for agriculture requirements of the region and help to mitigate the impact of drought in future years. In addition, this project ensures adoption of sustainable farming practices by local farmers and also contributing to water and soil regeneration.

Aimed at a vast and lasting social impact, the process of setting up a watershed management project is done through a participatory manner by the formation of a Village Watershed Committee. The committee is required to represent all sections of the community with at least 30 per cent participation by women. The committee members are also provided access to finance from formal financial sources. The rising water table would result in improved agricultural productivity, which in turn will help generate local employment, reduce migration and increase per capita income. Off-farm activities such as dairy and poultry farming will also be positively impacted.

A large number of women participate in watershed development and this helps in the formation of credit-linked women SHGs. Secondary impact such as improvement in education, health and housing will enable holistic development of the region. Further, Godrej runs a number of farmer training and animal husbandry programmes as part of its skill building efforts. Going ahead, Godrej aims to integrate these training programmes in the watershed project implementation.

With an earnest desire to make lasting social impact, Godrej partnered with the National Bank for Agriculture & Rural Development (NABARD) for a 4-year period to ensure Maharashtra’s most drought prone agricultural belt becomes a water sufficient region. Through partnership with NABARD, the group intends to engage with local NGOs that are carrying out the on-ground work in the villages.

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