Watersheds with a Holistic Approach

Rainfed areas are hotspots of poverty, food insecurity and prone to severe land degradation, water insecurity and with poor social and institutional infrastructure. Watershed development programs address these issues through the management of natural resources with multiple benefits.



  • Integrating on-farm and non-farm activities, soil and water conservation initiatives, diversification, identifying the highest producing crop varieties, training for on-farm management, processing and marketing linkages applied successfully in Telangana (India) Ethiopia, China, Mali and Thailand.


Kothapally watershed, Telangana, India

Soil and water: 

  • Construction of water harvesting structures led to nearly 53,475 m3 of water storage capacity
  • 37 recharge wells are now functional
  • Farmer could grow 2-3 crops per year
  • 10 women self-help groups took up vermicomposting. 

Productivity enhancement: 

  • Irrigated area increased from 60 ha in 1999 to 200 ha in 2013
  • Average crop yield of maize rose by 2.2 to 2.5 times
  • Pigeonpea production rose from 200 to 900 kg/ha
  • Farmers’ average income rose three-folds
  • Net income ranged from USD 376 to USD 1083 per acre. 

Crop-livestock integration: 

  • Improved breed, fodder quality and feed availability increased milk yields from 2-8 litres/day
  • Farmers deliver 1300 litres of milk/day
  • Artificial insemination: 4-5 more dairy animals per household.

See Kothapally Timeline
Download Poster 

Lucheba watershed, China 

  • 94%: Increase in average household land area with irrigation
  • 34%: Reduced rainfed area
  • 6-19%: Increased yield levels of crops (rice and maize)
  • 192%: Increase in farm income from crops, largely vegetables
  • 32%: Increase in household income
  • An investment of USD 472,191 led to net present value of USD 14.7 M and 31.14 benefit cost ratio. 

Read more: http://goo.gl/FHL9yR

Yewol watershed, Ethiopia 

  • Terracing minimized erosion: Five years after the terraces were constructed (2011- 2015), the irrigated land downstream  increased  from 200 to 940 hectares because of improved recharge upstream allowing extra water to flow downstream. Moreover, farmers started small-scale mountain agriculture upstream.
  • Rainwater harvesting structures meant more water, recharging of the groundwater and streams downstream
  • Production and productivity rose by about 35% with the introduction of better crop varieties for fodder and food
  • Greater groundwater access to communities
  • On-farm diversity led to a more sustainable system and better nutrition for the soils and the people
  • Less drudgery for women: Water available on farm
  • Equipment installed to monitor water flow and siltation.

Read more:

Kani watershed, Mali 

Fields treated with contour bunding had benefits:

  • More recharging capacity of wells
  • Slowing down of runoff rate
  • Reduced soil erosion and washing away of nutrients
  • Water could be accessed at reasonable depth during the dry season.

Read more: http://goo.gl/dVXGGH

Tad Fa watershed, Thailand 

Contour cultivation, vegetative bunds and fruit trees grown on steep slopes

  • Soil loss reduced
  • Seasonal water runoff was reduced to less than half.

Read more: http://goo.gl/jiO59e

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