In the Indian state of Gujarat, SWFF has provided grant funding to Bhungroo water harvesting systems installed in May and June 2018. Developed by Naireeta Services, a for-profit social enterprise and SWFF fourth round innovator, Bhungroo consists of handmade pipes that filter, transport, and hold rainwater underground. It functions in preparation for extreme weather patterns and irrigation deficiencies that may disrupt the region’s food and water security.
To assess the project’s impact, the SWFF evaluator conducted 68 interviews in villages throughout Gujarat, some of which operate Bhungroo systems independent of SWFF support. Fifty-two Bhungroo systems were installed with SWFF support. Each system was shared by eight farmers, making a total of 416 active recipients.
Because the recipients of the innovation were women who held legal water ownership rights, all of SWFF’s interviewees were female. On average, they worked and farmed on 1.28 ha of land, with all but one as the sole landowners. The field evaluators also gathered information on the farmers’ work experiences, sources of income, family sizes, and educational levels.
At the time of the evaluation, the SWFF-supported Bhungroo systems were not yet in use. Therefore, the SWFF evaluator also visited 10 bhungroo systems that weren’t funded with some SWFF support. As older Bunghroo systems in neighbouring areas had broken down and could no longer be used, the long-term sustainability of the systems is questioned. However, with an improved maintenance of the Bungharoo system this could be avoided.
To assess the project’s impact, the SWFF evaluator conducted 68 interviews in villages throughout Gujarat
Given that the SWFF-supported Bhungroos were only recently installed, the SWFF evaluator surveyed the farmers on their expectations for Bhungroo. Among 54 respondents, 66% stated that they expected to benefit, 17% expressed uncertainty, and another 17% did not expect to gain benefits from Bhungroo usage.
Collectively, the respondents with positive expectations cited water as the only benefit they expected to gain. For those who responded with uncertainty or negative expectations, the saltiness of Bhungroo-collected water and the depth of the storage systems stood out as areas of concern. According to Naireeta Services, water entering Bhungroo would dilute the salt content from the soil, but the effectiveness of the systems remains to be seen.
Another identified concern was uneven access to and benefit from the system. As one Bhungroo system is shared between eight farmers, but is physically placed on the land of one farmer, the other farmers would not have the same possibilities to use the water derived from the system. Some either live too far away whereas others suggested that the Bhungroo would not collect enough water for all and that the ‘landowners’ would not share the collected water with the other farmers. Some farmers were not even aware that they were part of a sharing group. The report suggests that the sharing arrangement should be reviewed to ensure an even inclusion.
Additionally, SWFF collected data on the farmers’ crops, including the types, yields, and rates of survival. Worth noting is that in 2018, the respondents planted more weather-resistant crops such as castor, millet, and wheat; these three crops constituted more than 75% of the farmers’ choices.
Thirty-four interviewees mentioned that, if they could extract more water from their Bhungroo systems, they would grow more and/or new crops. With bigger harvests, they would use the extra crops within their households as well as to derive additional income.
Furthermore, the farmers were asked whether the estimated water provisions from Bhungroo would suffice their needs. Notably, the majority of respondents felt that the estimated provisions would not be enough. The farmers also described other problems that they perceived, ranging from electricity to pipe size, and they offered suggestions for improvement that Naireeta has begun to act upon.
The report thus concludes that, as Bhungroo comes into use, the innovator and the farmers should work together and leverage the insights from the SWFF interviews in addressing the aforementioned and other potential problems. Although they were not yet using Bhungroo systems, the majority of the farmers expressed optimism about their future impact.
View the full report here.
This report was prepared by an independent researcher. The social enterprise evaluated for this project may or may not agree on all or parts of the contents of this report.