Adapting to climate change in the Godavari River basin of India by restoring traditional water storage systems

Gujja, B., et al., 2009. Climate and Development

Original research (primary data)
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Food, climate and water crises are interrelated and interdependent. Climate change is projected to significantly alter rainfall patterns, with implications for the annual runoff for the Godavari River basin of the Indian subcontinent. Agriculture, especially rain-fed agriculture, will be particularly affected, due to changes such as periodicity and intensity of rainfall. This paper describes field interventions in 2005-2007 designed to restore traditional water management systems (in the form of water tanks; that is, wetlands embedded in a semi-arid region), with the aim of mitigating the effects of increased climate variability and the frequency of weather extremes. Our findings suggest that traditional water management methods can be both socially and economically effective in coping with variability in precipitation patterns, decentralizing management institutions, improving crop productivity and increasing groundwater recharge. This approach is preferable to large projects for increasing water storage capacity or expanding areas under irrigation, which are expensive, and can displace people and degrade ecosystems.

Case studies

Basic information

  • Case ID: INT-186-1
  • Intervention type: Created habitats
  • Intervention description:

    restoring traditional water tanks (i.e. wetlands embedded in a semi-arid region); The project removed 73,000 tonnes of sediment from the 12 water tanks covering an area of 11 ha

  • Landscape/sea scape ecosystem management: No
  • Climate change impacts Effect of Nbs on CCI Effect measures
    Loss of food production  Positive Agriculture: crop/fish productivity (measured in monetary value of production)
    Reduced water availability  Positive Water supply: area of land that can now be irrigated, need to rely on/use groundwater supplies
  • Approach implemented in the field: Yes
  • Specific location:

    The Maner sub-basin is located in the semi-arid mid-Godavari River basin

  • Country: India
  • Habitat/Biome type: Created wetland |
  • Issue specific term: Not applicable


  • Notes on intervention effectivness: Effectiveness determined by comparing measures before and after the project “crop productivity increased by INR5.8 million per year… net profit from fishing increased by INR160,000 (USD3,000) per year” “farmers irrigated about 900 ha more land after the de-silting project … groundwater use decreased; partly because the water tanks provided sufficient water for irrigation without using groundwater as a supplement”
  • Is the assessment original?: Yes
  • Broadtype of intervention considered: Not applicable
  • Compare effectivness?: No
  • Compared to the non-NBS approach: Not applicable
  • Report greenhouse gas mitigation?: No
  • Impacts on GHG: Not applicable
  • Assess outcomes of the intervention on natural ecosystems: Yes
  • Impacts for the ecosystem: Positive
  • Ecosystem measures: Qualitative: “habitat for birds improved, and other ecological benefits were observed”
  • Assess outcomes of the intervention on people: Yes
  • Impacts for people: Positive
  • People measures: Qualitative: new employment, which decreases migration to cities; significant resolution of water conflicts
  • Considers economic costs: Yes
  • Economic appraisal conducted: No
  • Economic appraisal described:
  • Economic costs of alternative considered: No
  • Compared to an alternative: Not reported

Evaluation methodology

  • Type of data: Quantitative
  • Is it experimental: No
  • Experimental evalution done: Not applicable
  • Non-experimental evalution done: Empirical case study
  • Study is systematic: