Wakal River Basin Project

AQA GCSE Geography > Resource Management >  Wakal River Basin Project

Wakal River Basin Project

Rajasthan, a region in north-west India, is the poorest and driest part of the country and is covered mainly by the Thar Desert. It experiences extreme temperatures, reaching up to 53°C in the summer, while the annual rainfall is very low, with less than 250 mm falling mainly between June and September. There is very little surface water as rain quickly infiltrates the land or evaporates.

What are the issues with water supply?

Water supply presents considerable challenges due to historical mismanagement. Excessive irrigation has resulted in waterlogging and salinisation, while over-abstraction from unregulated pumps has depleted aquifers, causing many wells to run dry. There has been little coordinated water management as villages and individual households control access to wells.

The Wakal River Basin Project

Addressing these challenges, the Wakal River Basin Project, situated in Rajasthan’s southern part, has received funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) as part of the Global Water for Sustainability Program from 2004 to 2014. This initiative has focused on enhancing water security by engaging local communities in the management process. Its twofold aim is to increase water supply and storage with locally adapted solutions and to raise community awareness regarding sustainable water management.

Increasing Water Supply

The project has promoted rainwater harvesting to boost water supply, which has benefited villages and families alike.

The strategies used include:

  • Constructing taankas, which are underground storage tanks that gather water from rooftops

    A villager collects water from a taanka in the That Desert

    A villager collects water from a taanka in the That Desert – source

  • Johads, small earth dams that capture rainwater, have increased the water table by up to 6m, enabling rivers that previously dried post-monsoon to flow year-round.
  • Pats, or irrigation canals, have been developed to channel water to fields.


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