New partnership extends impact of MARVI water management program in India

Dan Tehan, Education Minister, speaks with delegates at the India launch

Western Sydney University has forged a new partnership agreement with the Jal Shakti (Water) Ministry to extend the reach of the highly-successful MARVI approach for participatory groundwater management throughout India.

The MARVI system (Managing Aquifer Recharge and Sustaining Groundwater Use through Village-level Intervention) approach is focussed on engaging village communities to monitor, use and manage groundwater at the village level. As a part of MARVI project, a smartphone app, called MyWell, was developed to enable collection and sharing of monitored data of well water levels, rainfall, water quality and dam water levels to help local communities to better manage scarce groundwater reserves.

Australia’s Minister for Education, the Hon Dan Tehan MP joined Western Sydney University Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Barney Glover AO, to sign the new agreement.

MARVI has successfully engaged networks of farmers, local communities, government agencies and policymakers to monitor groundwater levels and quality, providing a decentralised database of water availability that has helped to dramatically improve management of increasingly scarce groundwater reserves.

Developed by Western Sydney University researchers and multiple partner organisations in Australia and India, MARVI’s success is based on engagement of local “groundwater-informed” volunteers termed Bhujal Jankaars (BJs). With the appropriate training, BJs monitor groundwater and support local communities to actively monitor groundwater in wells and dams to input data onto the app and share this information with other local farmers and government offices.

“MARVI is built with the knowledge that a collaborative and co-designed approach to empowering localised water management is the most sustainable and enduring model for managing India’s precious water reserves,” said Professor Basant Maheshwari, lead researcher in the MARVI program.

Professor Barney Glover said: “With many parts of India running perilously short of water in heat and drought conditions, we have to build on the expertise of local communities, supported by clever engagement and innovation.”

Australia’s Minister for Education, the Hon Dan Tehan MP, travelled to India to sign the agreement along with Mr Gajendra Singh Shekhawat from the Water Ministry of India, and the Ministry of Jal Shakti.

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