Australia and India partnering to address India’s water challenges
New Delhi, November 24, 2022: Sustainable management of water is a key challenge for both Australia and India. Collaboration in water research, training, and education between our two countries is growing rapidly through several activities supported by the Ministry of Jal Shakti, the Australian Water Partnership, Western Sydney University, and the Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati.
In this pursuit, the National Hydrology Project, Department of Water Resources, RD & GR, Ministry of Jal Shakti has initiated an innovative Young Water Professional Program in collaboration with Western Sydney University and Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati, lead of the Australia India Water Centre. The objectives of this program are to build the capacity of Young Water Professionals (YWPs) and to provide them with the required knowledge, skills, attitude, and aptitude to offer their best in the country’s water sector by accepting leadership roles and responsibilities.
The Young Water Professional Program focuses on gender equality and diversity. The first phase of this Programme has selected 20 young officers (10 men and 10 women) from the National Hydrology Project’s central and state implementing agencies. This 11-month YWP program is getting successfully completed. While conducting this program, the Australia India Water Centre brought together eight universities and one State Government Department from Australia and 16 IITs and key universities of India.
On the occasion of the concluding event of the Young Water Professional Programme on 23rd November, 2022 in New Delhi, Western Sydney University, with the Ministry of Jal Shakti and the Australian Water Partnership also launched an app for farmers and ordinary citizens, ‘My Well’. It is a citizen science tool for participatory monitoring and visualisation of groundwater, surface water, rainfall, water quality, check dam water levels, and other parameters. This app will be used by villagers trained to manage their groundwater resources. These citizen scientists, called Bhujal Janakaar- “BJs” – are part of the ‘Managing Aquifer Recharge and Sustaining Groundwater Use through Village-level Intervention’ (MARVI) project. The app will help BJs and ordinary citizens to make sense of what is happening to water availability in their villages.
“MARVI is already transforming lives and farming communities through its unique approach of engaging and training villagers to monitor and manage groundwater. The concept of MARVI to engage citizens to manage village groundwater has been adapted for the Ministry’s ambitious national project, the Atal Bhujal Yojana’, said Ms. Debashree Mukherjee, Special Secretary, DOWR, RD & GR, Ministry of Jal Shakti. “The expansion of MARVI through the national project, together with MyWell, will empower BJs and ordinary citizens across India to self-manage water sustainably“, she said. She also emphasized the need to integrate the validated crowd-sourced data in the central database being managed by NWIC for generating analytics and dissemination to the masses.
‘India and Australia are natural partners and this collaboration to train young water professionals is an important step in the right direction’, said Ms. Debashree Mukherjee. “I am particularly inspired by the equal participation of women. These will be our female leaders in future water management.”
“The future of water security in India is also in the hands of the future leaders in water management,” said Sarah Ransom, General Manager of the Australian Water Partnership. “I am pleased that the first cohort of 20 Young Water Professionals are graduating today from a 10-month training program delivered by the Australia-India Water Centre, led by Western Sydney University and the Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati.”
“The YWP program is unique as 70 percent of the program focuses on project-based learning with real-world situations and clients”, said Professor Barney Glover, Vice-Chancellor and President of Western Sydney University. “It not only provides technical capacity building, but it also develops the critical thinking, problem-solving, leadership, and project management skills needed for management of water resources and water management reforms in India”, he said. Emphasizing the need for collaboration between Australia and India, Professor Barney Glover said, “Collaboration is the key for Australia and India, and partnerships drive our SDG impact, including through this important network which brings together key players to tackle the significant water challenges of our two countries.”
Western Sydney University, ranked Number One in the world for SDG impact in the latest Times Higher Education (THE) University Impact Rankings, is also rolling out a Joint Master’s program in Sustainable Water Futures, in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati.
“This degree is based on short courses – micro-credentials – and provides a great opportunity to build the capacity of water professionals through the joint delivery by Australian and Indian partners of the Australia-India Water Centre,” said Professor T.G. Sitharam, Director, Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati.