Pune: Watershed Organisation Trust (WOTR), a globally recognised organisation dedicated to transforming the lives of millions in rural India, has empowered 45 lakh beneficiaries through its various programmes since its establishment in 1993. Marking its 28th Foundation Day recently, the Pune-based social welfare organisation announced that it has executed rural development and ecosystem-based adaptation programmes for communities in 5387 villages in the last 28 years. These include various community-led programmes in Water & Land Management, Agriculture, Livelihood Generation, Women Empowerment, and Health, Sanitation and Nutrition.
Since its establishment, WOTR has been working towards watershed development and ecosystems restoration, climate resilient sustainable agriculture, integrated and efficient water management and climate change adaptation, with a special emphasis on building resilience of vulnerable communities, farmers, and women. WOTR works with communities across nine States – Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Orissa, Chhattisgarh, and Bihar to empower and uplift the lives of rural people by uniting and organising them towards common issues – land degradation and water scarcity to bring sustainable development.
Talking about the work WOTR has done since the beginning, Prakash Keskar, Executive Director, Watershed Organisation Trust (WOTR) said, “Our organisation is committed to building the resilience of vulnerable rural communities to Climate Change by enhancing the availability of water, increasing the productivity of land and agriculture, diversifying livelihoods, empowering women, and strengthening the health and well-being. Empowering 45 lakh community members is not a number to tell the world but a motivation to keep on working to support rural communities and restore degraded ecosystems.”
WOTR has consistently been enabling communities through its various programmes. Under its rural development work, the organisation has directly impacted 28 lakh villagers in 3372 villages while reaching out to 17 lakh men and women in 2015 village in association with its partners.
Under the weather and farm based agro advisory initiative, WOTR has installed 131 agro-met stations in four States to provide weather and agriculture related advisory over one lakh farmers in 1078 villages. The NGO also launched a unique app – FarmPrecise – in December 2019 to help the farming community with farm specific and customised crop-weather advisories.
As a part of its safe water programme, WOTR installed water filtration units in 272 villages which benefitted over 99,000 people. 221 units were set up in schools of 175 villages to serve 22,003 students.
With an aim to empower women in rural areas, WOTR also facilitated the formation of 15,690 women self-help groups which supported 1,93,000 women to earn their livelihood across the States. With its watershed development and climate change adaptation-based interventions WOTR covered 15,26,476 hectares of land and helped over 26 lakh people.
Keeping an eye on climate change with commitment to sustainable development, WOTR also lays strong emphasis on research, learning and evidence-based policy advocacy. The WOTR Centre for Resilience Studies (W-CReS), established in 2016 conducts rigorous, application-oriented studies on the key thematic areas that WOTR is engaged in, with collaboration of all stakeholders. In addition, training, and capacity building by WOTR and W-CReS have impacted over 566,000 people from 27 States of India and 63 countries.