Beyond the Boundary

Beyond the Boundary

India is facing a water crisis. Despite significant gains in recent years, it is one of the lowest-ranked countries in terms of the water quality index. The country has a very high reliance on groundwater both for drinking and irrigation, yet around half of India’s groundwater wells are declining due to abstraction rates exceeding the rate of recharge. Despite significant efforts to increase access to safe water by the government, civil society, and the private sector, the combined effects of climate change, population growth, and poor governance create a challenge to water security.

Rapidly growing urban peripheries are emerging as a key topography for water management, with corporate production sites now crucial participants alongside industrial users, agriculture and households. Combined with the effects of climate change, this can lead to a lack of safe water for those who need it most.

Our Beyond the Boundary programme in India is paving  the way for a sustainable future

Our ground-breaking project aims to improve watershed-scale stewardship in India’s urban peripheries by integrating data, aligning stakeholder interests, and providing best-practice guidance for collective action. Our vision for Beyond the Boundary is a world in which corporate water stewardship of water resources and inclusive collective action improve conditions for people and the environment at the watershed scale, and our mission is to support corporate production sites as effective water stewards in their watersheds and enable collective action with stakeholders for better water management.

For a water-secure future, we need stakeholders (key decision-makers and partners) to work collectively across their watersheds.  Our programmes team and our partners have been working for one year in Anekal, outside the growing city of Bangalore, to generate a comprehensive hydrological model and recommendations for watershed interventions to secure a safe, sustainable water supply for all.

“Beyond the Boundary is bringing together global expertise in community development and hydrology to create new ways of managing water. Sharing knowledge on good water management is one of the ways that we can reduce the impact of climate change and the global water crisis. Watersheds on urban peripheries are typically hotly contested between multiple stakeholders competing for abstractions. Corporate entities are powerful actors in these areas, and fairness and justice in resource allocations can be lacking. These areas suffer for a lack of coordination, information asymmetry and ineffective regulations when in comes to groundwater resources”

Jon Shepherd, Head of Programmes & Funding at Frank Water

Work so far

In year one, Frank Water’s team successfully collaborated with leading technical and local partners to assess the water of water resources and water governance in Anekal taluk, a peri-urban area on the outskirts of Bengaluru, Bangalore, building on their previous experience in this area.

Anekal is an urbanising industrial area with 700,000 residents. In Anekal town, 38% of residents lack a connection to mains water.  In addition, it is home to 137 factories engaged in the electronics industry today. Around 80-90% of water demand is for agriculture whilst domestic and industrial demands accounts for around 10-20%. Around 60% of borewells are non-functional as of the present day.

The team generated a model to forecast water resource availability using both earth observation (EO) data and local surveys, created a series of decision indicators to support better and fairer decision-making for water resource allocations, and produced a comprehensive stakeholder map of water resources management institutions.

The model and associated forecasts are available on the online platform here.

Widening our scale and scope in India

As we enter the second phase of the project, we shall be continuing our work in Aneka taluk and applying a similar approach to Sriperumbudur outside the city of Chennai. We shall be focussing on the role of industrial production sites beyond their boundaries and will be founding a Coalition for Water Stewardship to enable them to play a positive role in creating a sustainable water balance and supporting fairer water allocations in their watershed.

Map of India

Our current partners

Core funding for the first two years of the project has been sourced from Apple through an environmental partnership. For the first year of the project, we collaborated with Myrada and the Foundation for Ecological Security to gain a deep multi-faceted understanding of the watershed in Anekal. DHI, our technical partner, harnessed its world-leading modelling expertise to create a watershed model and forecast the impact of multiple climate change scenarios.

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