Enhancing drought resilience through Nature based Solutions: Update from WOTR-ELD India case study

Location map of study area (Image provided by WOTR)

Project activities implemented in the study villages (1) (Photo provided by WOTR)

Project activities (2) (Photo by WOTR)

Project activities (3) (Photo by WOTR)

Project activities (4) (Photo by WOTR)

Project activities (5) (Photo by WOTR)

Droughts - a recurrent phenomenon on Indian soils

Owing to high variability in rainfall across the Indian sub-continent and wide variations in the physiographic set-up of the country, droughts have been a recurrent phenomenon on Indian soil. Between 1871 and 2015, 25 major drought years are declared for India.

Area of the country under drought lies majorly in Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, and Orissa (Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, 2016). The years 2014-15 and 2015-16, classified as El Niño years, and during these years extensive geographies of the country experienced severe drought, leading to significant hardships for affected populations. Last year (2023) was also overshadowed by El Niño condition, which lead to drought like conditions in many parts of country.

WOTR, ELD, UNU-INWEH case study

The Watershed Organisation Trust (WOTR) in collaboration with UNU-INWEH and ELD has initiated a study to assess the impacts of Sustainable Land and Ecosystem Management (SLEM) activities in enhancing the drought resilience in six villages of Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra state.

This case study will contribute to the upcoming UNCCD-ELD Global Report on the Economics of Drought Resilience. The study is intended to assess the economics of droughts and role of SLEM interventions in building drought resilience by adopting ELD 6+1 methodology, this also includes an integrated drought assessment approach (agro-meteorological, hydrological, geospatial, and socio-economic).

To enhance the scientific rigor of the study WOTR has partnered with two reputable national institutes (both govt. institutes), the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) [for climate analysis] and ICAR-Central Research Institute of Dryland Agriculture (CRIDA) [for economic modelling] for this study.

The study villages are falling in two different agro-climatic zones i.e., High Rainfall Zone and Rainfall Scarcity Zone. These villages face frequent droughts / drought like conditions and falls predominantly under the rain shadow area, since the year 2010, the region has faced three droughts (2012, 2015 and 2018), last year also the region faced drought like conditions.

Project activities implemented in the study villages

In the study villages, WOTR has implemented the following activities between 2009 to 2012:

Ecosystem Restoration through Sustainable Land Management (SLM)

  • Soil and Water Conservation works from ridge to valley
  • Afforestation: Plantation of indigenous trees
  • Biodiversity Conservation
  • Following the Ecosystem based Adaptation approach

Water Stewardship: Supply & demand / water use management

Climate Resilient Agriculture:  Promotion of biological, botanical and organic formulation

  • System of Crop Intensification (SCI),
  • Agro-met advisories (locale and crop specific)

Community engagement

  • Local Institution building (inclusive)
  • Gender mainstreaming

Ongoing assessment

Presently the analysis of various themed data (meteorological, socio-economic and geospatial) is ongoing and the study is expected to complete by September this year.

A study is expected to come up with a detailed case study report, providing evidence of economic benefits of investment in SLM and related interventions to reduce and manage the drought impacts and also Document the role of community management and engagement that sustains the impact



This blog was written by  Vijay Solanky (WOTR).