Watershed India

In India, the Watershed project is being executed in two States, in the Districts of Samastipur in Bihar and Ganjam in Odisha. The project is being implemented In 10 villages of Ganjam District in Chhatarpur Block. In Bihar, the project covers 10 villages in Ujiarpur and Sarairanjan Blocks of Samastipur District.

Advocacy goal of Watershed India

The two district governments (Collector / Magistrate), in Odisha and Bihar, recognize the relevance of improving capacities for need based planning and resource mobilisation of local governments (Gram Panchayat) and agree to commit sustained and continued capacity building exercises for local governments.

Key Objectives of Watershed India

  • The Gram Panchayats demand for capacity building initiatives from their respective governments, for proper planning, implementation and post-construction support, of water and sanitation services and water security planning, by July 2020
  •  The District Collectors acknowledge the need and allocate adequate  resources for building capacities of GPs for planning and implementation of water and sanitation programmes by July 2020
  • The respective local governments (GPs)  recognize the significance of planning for water security and include its elements in their annual development plans (GPDP) and planning to build capacities within the GPs about this, by July by 2020.

In order to achieve the above objectives, the Watershed project provides support to build capacities (of landscape partners, local institutions and  CSOs) to execute the advocacy and influencing efforts for sustainable WASH services, water security planning, and budget tracking, with updated information and evidence-based engagement.

Project design of Watershed India

The following diagram outlines the project design of the Watershed India activities. At the centre (in green) are the set of activities undertaken during the four year period. The purpose of each activity is explained on the right (in pink). The key outputs (components) of the different stages of the project are listed (in blue) on the left.

Ganjam district, Odisha

As per the 2011 Census of India, Ganjam District in the State of Odisha, has a total rural population of 27,61,030 and urban population of 7,68,001. The District comprises 3195 villages in 22 Blocks. The reported Sex Ratio is 50:50.

Although reported to have a 90% coverage of safe water, for sanitation coverage, Odisha was rated among the five poorly performing States in India until 2019. As per the 2012 baseline survey of the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, 81.5 lakh households lacked toilets in the state. Until 2018, 41% of households are reported to have toilet coverage.

In Odisha, the Watershed project is operational in Chhatrapur Block. In total, Chhatrapur Block comprises of  17 Gram Panchayats and 80 villages, of which, the Watershed project focuses on 10 villages in 4 Gram Panchayats (GP); Kanamana, Arjayapalli, Podapadra and Agastinugaon.

Prominent social categories in the Watershed villages are Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

Census of India-2011, District Census Handbook - Ganjam:

Adjacent Wetlands in the Watershed Landscape

The Watershed villages in Ganjam are adjacent to the Tamapada lake, an endangered wetlands in the state of Odisha.

Further read:

“Ensuring freshness of water for one and all – Conserving coastal wetlands for water security”

This paper describes the need for syncing water supply programmes with water resources management for the Tampara wetlands

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Samastipur District, Bihar

As per the Census of India 2011, Samastipur District has a total rural population of 4,113,769 and urban population of 147,797. Samastipur has a sex ratio of 909 females for every 1000 males. The District comprises 1246 villages spread over 20 Blocks.

In Bihar, 59 percent of the rural habitations are reported to be fully covered with water supply, 36.4 percent are partially covered and 4.5 percent are
quality affected.

In terms of its performance in the sanitation sector, until recently, Bihar had lagged behind and was among the five poorest performing States. As per the 2012 baseline survey of the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, 168.1 lakh households lacked access to safe toilets. Since then, 57.8 lakh households have been covered with toilets. The pace of toilet construction has increased significantly since the 2015-16, after Swachh Bharat Mission, flagship programme of the Government of India towards making India Open Defecation Free.

In Bihar, the Watershed project is implemented in Sarairanjan and Ujiarpur Blocks of Samastipur District. The Sarairanjan Block comprises of 58 villages spread over 23 Gram Panchayats while Ujiarpur comprises of 28 GPs and 62 villages.

The project landscape spreads over 10 villages in five GP i.e. Barbatta, Rupali Buzurg, Lakhanipur Mahespatti, Raipur and Bhagwanpur Kamla

Main social categories in Watershed landscape villages are Other Backward Class and Scheduled Caste, i.e. the most marginalised in the State.

Census of India-2011, District Census Handbook - Samastipur:

Swachh Bharat Mission
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Adjacent Wetlands in the Watershed Landscape

The Watershed villages in Samastipur District are adjacent to the Debkhal Chaur,, an endangered wetlands in the state of Bihar.

Consortium Partners

1. Wetlands International South Asia (WISA) is the lead partner in the Watershed India project. It is responsible for implementation, providing scientific and technical support for use and conservation of wetlands. In the consortium, WISA coordinates project implementation including direct liaison with partners and content support on water security elements.

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2. IRC is the knowledge development partner responsible for providing content and capacity development support on implementation elements related to sustainable WASH services, particularly WASH budgets and public finances.

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3. Akvo Foundation leads monitoring, evaluation and learning activities for the project. Akvo introduced technology solutions in the project to capture project data and information sharing. It is also responsible for supporting landscape partners in their efforts towards process documentation and to generate reliable evidence for advocacy.

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Landscape Partners

The Landscape partners are responsible for facilitating capacity building meetings for local CSOs on WASH and water security awareness and planning and village-level discussion for community to develop inclusive development plans.

1. Gram Uthhan is a non-profit organisation that works with underprivileged groups on issues such as sustainable livelihood development, promotion of microenterprise, financial inclusion, WASH, etc. In the Watershed project, Gram Uthan is the field implementation partner working in Odisha.

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2. Nidan works on empowerment of the poor and marginalized groups through community services and their pro-poor participative interventions. Nidan is the implementing partner for Watershed project in Bihar.

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Technical Partners

1. Centre for Budgetary Governance and Accountability (CBGA) is an independent non-profit organisation that works on enhancing transparency and accountability in governance through rigorous analysis of policies and budgets. In the Watershed project, CBGA and IRC have facilitated workshops and supported landscape partners on budget tracking and WASH financing.

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2. Arid Communities and Technologies (ACT) is a non- profit organization that aims to strengthen the livelihoods of communities in arid and semi-arid regions by resolving ecological constraints through access to technological and institutional solutions. In Watershed project, ACT facilitated workshops for local CSOs including landscape partners on developing sustainable water security plans.

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The main stakeholders of the Watershed project are the rural communities and  their local organisations. The Gram Panchayat is the elected local government at the village level and the primary link between the community and the government administration. The Community Social Organizations (CSO) include Self-help Groups, Village Water and Sanitation Committee, Village Development Committee and related platforms & networks with representation. The CSOs and the different government departments (National, State, District, Block ) co-ordinating WASH and WRM programmes constitute the other stakeholders of the project.

In India, planning and execution of WASH and WRM services is done at several levels and hierarchies. At the National level, the central policies, guidelines and frameworks are drawn,  which are then adapted by the States. The State governments also have policies and programmes pertaining to the local needs. Funds are allocated by the Centre and the States in the annual budgets and the programmes are executed by the respective District, Block and local governments.

Administrative structures within the Government

Central Government
Making policies, guidelines and budgets of national development programs monitoring
State Government
State-specific programs and guidelines, developing materials, procedures, monitoring, training and allocation of budgets
District Government
Planning, execution and budgeting of district-level programs, training, monitoring and developing IEC material
Block Government
Coordination of programs, training of Block and Panchayat-level teams, monitoring and release of subsidy(s)
Panchayat (cluster of villages)
Planning and execution of programs, link between community and bureaucrats/higher administrative levels and monitoring

Key Government departments - programs and their functions:

1. Central Government: 

  • Ministry of Jalshakti: Created in 2019, the Ministry is responsible for water-related issues, flagship initiatives of  the Government of India to clean river Ganga and provide clean drinking water.
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  • Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC):  Nodal agency for the planning and implementation of policies and programmes relating to conservation of the country's natural resources including its lakes and rivers, its biodiversity, forests and wildlife, etc.
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2. State Government:

  • Department of Panchayati Raj & Drinking Water (DPRDW), Odisha: Responsible for supply of safe drinking water and sanitation to the rural population. Odisha State Water and Sanitation Mission (OSWSM) under the DPRDW runs the state’s water and sanitation programs.
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  • Department of Panchayati Raj (DPR), Bihar: Responsible for overall planning and execution of development activities in rural areas.
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  • Public Health and Engineering Department(PHED), Bihar: Responsible for supply of safe drinking water to rural areas and development of sanitation facilities in Bihar. It also ensures habitations receive  access to safe water and monitoring of quality of drinking water supply.
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  • Department of  Rural Development (DRD), Bihar and Odisha: Responsible for  development and welfare activities in the rural areas.
    View Website [Bihar]
    View Website [Odisha]

3. District Government: 

  • Rural Water Supply and Sanitation (RWSS) Department, Odisha: Responsible for increasing coverage of drinking water supply and sanitation by building infrastructure. The completed infrastructure is handed over to the Panchayats, which are responsible for the operation and maintenance of the water supply schemes within their jurisdiction.
  • Public Health and Engineering Department, Bihar: Responsible for supply of safe drinking water to rural areas. It also provides technical support for installation of water points and coordinates  monitoring water quality.
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4. Block Government:

  • Rural Water Supply and Sanitation (RWSS) Department, Odisha: Responsible for increasing coverage of drinking water supply and sanitation by building infrastructure. The completed infrastructure is handed over to the local governments i.e. Gram Panchayats, who are responsible for the operation and maintenance of the water supply schemes within their jurisdiction.
  • Public Health and Engineering Department, Bihar: Responsible for supply of safe drinking water to rural areas and development of sanitation facilities. It also ensures habitations receive  access to safe water and monitoring of quality of drinking water supply.
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5. Village Government: 

  • Gram Panchayat (GP), Odisha and Bihar: GP is the grassroots-level unit of governance. Panchayat members are elected by the community for a term of 5 years. The main functions of GP includes construction and maintenance of village infrastructure such as water resources, drainage, roads, execution of government schemes, etc.
  • Ward Implementation Management Committee (WIMC), Bihar: WIMC is constituted by the local government in each GP for implementation of two  WASH development schemes in Bihar

Further read:

In India, national policies on drinking water and sanitation have accelerated efforts towards universal sanitation coverage and access to safe drinking water. However, WASH policies have been largely disconnected with the issues of water source and waste sink sustainability. In particular, the states of Bihar and Odisha which figure very poorly on development scale, are also severely challenged in terms of WASH coverage and have been facing increasing water stress over the years.

In the above context, the selected landscapes of the Watershed India project provided an ideal ground to demonstrate how ‘evidence based advocacy’ could result in an improved recognition of the importance of interfacing water security planning with WASH planning and programming. The project invested in building capacities of communities and the local CSOs to advocate for better service delivery and ensuring water security in their landscapes within the context of the stated political will of the government policies and programmes.

Further Read:

This briefing paper by WISA highlights the need to shift focus towards WASH service delivery in the wider context of water security and explore an integrated approach to sustain WASH services in the long run. It highlights the case from Samastipur district, one of the Watershed India project location to capture evidence of such interlinkages within WASH and Water resources sector.

Context analysis summarises the key anticipated challenges to achieving national WASH targets, map out existing government programs, institutions for WASH-WRM, identify different stakeholders and their role (govt, private, CSOs) in the Watershed project. It also looked at factors that will affect the success of the project.

Presentation on Context analysis:

In India, current programmes, policies and regulatory frameworks provide an enabling environment for promoting universal access to WASH and effective WRM. However, there also exist  challenges, primarily around effective execution of these initiatives. The Watershed programme in India seeks to address some of these challenges and capacitate rural communities to benefit from the favourable environment.


  • Progressive Policies
  • Good political climate / Political will
  • Resources allocated for WASH
  • Defined Institutional structures & arrangements
  • Information about progress in public domain
  • Local institutions to play a more prominent role


  • Dated information
  • Weak information channels
  • Weak delivery systems
  • Adequate / designated Human resources for execution
  • No designated Budgets for major (and minor) maintenance
  • Water quality issues not recognised or addressed
  • Low ownership & participation of community

National Policies which proved as an opportunity for Watershed

Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM)
  • Target- provide Functional Household Tap Connection (FHTC) to every rural household with service level at the rate of 55 litres per capita per day(lpcd)  by 2024.
  • Resources-Total estimated cost of JJM is Rs. 3.60 Lakh Crore. Allocation of fund among state has been modified by including the number of left-out household connections as additional criteria and additional weightage given to rural population affected by water quality.

In 2019, Government of India has restructured and subsumed the ongoing National Rural Drinking Water Programme(NRDWP) into JJM.


National Rural Drinking Water Program
  • Targets for 100% coverage with piped water supply by 2022, 80% household connections
  • Resources - Higher devolution in of untied funds to States for WATSAN (2015-16 to 2019-20) in Fourteenth Finance Commission (14th FC)
  • Institutional structures - 100 percent of the rural drinking water sources and systems managed by local Institutions (Gram Panchayats & communities)


Swacchh Bharat Mission - Gramin (SBM-G)
  • Targets - construction and use of individual, community/ public toilets & behaviour change
  • Resources – Higher devolution of funds and political priority for sanitation


Rural Sanitation Policy (2019-2029)
  • Targets- Sustaining the gains of the SBM-G, access to safely managed sanitation for all rural Indians; Implementation of Solid and Liquid Waste Management (SLWM) in rural areas
  • Resources –Convergence of resources between schemes cutting across rural development,employment, livelihood, etc.; Fourteenth Finance Commission (FFC) through grant allocation for GPs and Fifteenth Finance Commission funds post 2020 and funds devolved to PRIs under various schemes by the state government and State Finance Commissions


Indian drinking water standard specifications
This document explains the nature and effect of various contaminants as also the new techniques for identifying and determining their concentration. The standard specifies the acceptable limits and the permissible limits  in the absence of alternate drinking water source.


Odisha State Policies

BASUDHA for piped water supply
  • Targets - State targets for National policies and Basudha scheme (Provide safe water for drinking and domestic needs (wherever there is a shortage), on a sustainable basis)
  • Resources – Allocations for GPs and up to 10% for Maintenance
    State governments to supplement national budgets for WATSAN in State Finance Commission (SFC)
  • Institutions - Odisha State Water and Sanitation Mission (OSWSM) in Department of Panchayati Raj & Drinking Water


Odisha Rural Sanitation Policy (Draft, 2019)
  • Target - aims to ensure universal access to improved sanitation facilities at household and institutional level, safe conveyance and disposal of waste, recycling, greater awareness on public health & hygiene, focus on climate resilience with respect to sanitation infrastructure and services in rural areas and institutionalising capacities for management along the entire sanitation value chain


Odisha Rural Sanitation Policy (Draft, 2019)
  • Targets - aims to  ensure universal access to improved sanitation facilities at household and institutional level, safe conveyance and disposal of waste, recycling, greater awareness on public health & hygiene, focus on climate resilience with respect to sanitation infrastructure and services in rural areas and institutionalising capacities for management along the entire sanitation value chain.


Government Order (GO) : By-laws for solid waste management in gram panchayats of Odisha , 2019
Government order issued inorder to implement the provisions of Solid Waste Management Rule, 2016, in all gram panchayats of Odisha.


Bihar State Policies

Lohiya Swachh Bihar Abhiyan
  • Target - cover specific households that are not eligible for government incentives (subsidy) for toilet construction under SBM (G)


Saat Nischay (Seven Commitments) Program
  • Targets - Mukhyamantri Gramin Gali-Nali Pakkikaran Nishchay Yojana intends to create a network of drainage and by-lanes in villages and habitations in the rural areas. Har Ghar Nal Ka Jal aims to provide clean drinking water through piped supply to every household in rural area through community participation by 2019-2020.
  • Resources - funded by State Government as well as from the 14th Finance Commision and 5th State Finance Commision grants for GPs. A large proportion of these grants for GPs in Bihar is getting channelled towards the water and sanitation schemes under Saat Nischay Program


The Watershed programme promotes “ evidence based advocacy” for improved WASH services and WRM. All data collected within the programme are directed towards building evidence that supports lobby and advocacy initiatives in the projects. Data collection in Watershed India was a continuous process where both Secondary and Primary data was collected, collated, analysed and disseminated to further the project advocacy objectives.

Secondary data review was conducted to collect existing information about WASH and WRM in landscape villages and identify the data gaps. Reviews were also done to assess the relevance of State and National policies and the institutional structures for service delivery within respective government departments and the related networks for WASH and WRM. This was done mainly through desk reviews and meetings with the related departments and key personnel.


Project Inception report:


After the data gaps were identified in the secondary data review, additional information about the selected parameters for evidence building was collected through primary level data collection.

Key issues identified in village information sheets

  • Status on the functionality of water sources which helped the community identify the focus on additional hardware installation than operation & maintenance of existing infrastructure
  • Evidence gaps for the community to have a dialogue with Panchayat members and further negotiate with higher Block administration
  • Identified the gaps in the planning process where the community priorities are adequately represented and are consistent with the ground reality
  • Need to improve village-level institutions in order to improve service delivery of WASH


Methodology for data collection - Village-level information sheets

Village information sheets were developed by the landscape partners as an outcome of their capacity building. (supported / coordinated by Watershed consortium partners). The information was collated by triangulating findings collected through formal and informal methods of enquiry using the following three tools:

  1. Problem-tree analysis
  2. Community Focus Group Discussions
  3. Participatory Rural Appraisal

(a) About Problem tree analysis
Problem-tree analysis helped to deconstruct key challenges for WASH and WRM in the villages, the key emerging issues, the causes and the factors that contribute to the issue, interlinkages between factors and how this problem branches out into a set of consequences.

(b) About Focus Group Discussion (FGD)
FGDs were conducted with community members, disadvantaged groups and village leaders to understand the challenges faced in service delivery, track the historical evolution of water resource management, identify the challenges in sanitation The inquiry also focussed on understanding the community’s perception about linkages between WASH-WRM, community-level service provider responsible for maintenance of water sources and sanitation coverage, components of village-level water security and sanitation plans, actions taken by village-level institutions towards fulfilments of these plans and leveraging of government schemes towards these plans.

(c) About Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA)

During the PRA exercise the entire community traversed their villages to note the status of their WASH infrastructure and translate the information into hand drawn maps which formed the basis of discussions. The community used their observations to understand and assess existing status of WASH services and identify the possible WRM gaps. The joint exercise resulted in hand-drawn village-level resource and social maps i.e. various water and sanitation infrastructure resources, their functional status and distribution across the village in terms of served and unserved populations.It was a good opportunity to involve relevant stakeholders to initiate a discussion on the process of participative planning for village resources.

Village information sheets

PRA- Ganjam District-Odisha
Village name Link


PRA- Samastipur District, Bihar
Village name Link
Rupauli Buzurg
Lakhanipur Maheshpatti
Bhagwanpur Kamla


Village Information Sheets- Ganjam District-Odisha
Village name Link
Kanamana village-information-takiria-behrampur




Arjapalli village-information-sana-arjapalli



Podapaddar village-information-sheet-humari



Augustinugaon village-information-agasti-nuagan


Village Information Sheets- Samastipur District, Bihar
Village name Link
Rupauli Buzurg
Lakhainipur Maheshpatti
Bhagwanpur Kamla

Purpose of the baseline survey

In 2017, a Baseline survey about the status of WASH and WRM services in the landscape villages was conducted to understand the existing situation and assist the community to prepare evidence for advocacy for improved services. The baseline survey helped to:

  • Validate / support the issues / facts already known to the community and ratified during the PRA exercise
  • Generate real-time status and distribution of WASH services and infrastructure in the villages
  • Highlight the impact of WASH infrastructure and services on WRM thereby ascertaining the linkages between WASH-WRM.
  • Promote greater accountability and ownership of community representatives by involving them in data collection and set the stage for dialogue for advocacy.

Key issues identified in the baseline mapping survey:

  • For the first time, Community was informed of the national standards of “functionality” of water points. It is a combination of coverage, safety, adequacy and reliability of water points. Insights from data informed the community to track their water sources on all the above components and realised the need to sustain the existing water sources than installation more water points
  • In the water point mapping survey, each public water source was tested on four water quality parameters; Iron, coliform, pH and Electrical Conductivity (Salinity). Water source was classified as safe if it conformed to the permissible limit as per the national standards
  • Close to half the water sources were identified as unsafe. It helped clear the community's perception about improved water sources such as handpumps /tap-water providing safe water
  • It also convinced the community and its leaders of the need for regular water testing as a priority in the village plan

Methodology and Location for baseline survey

In Odisha, the survey was conducted in 10 revenue villages (6,905 households) in 4 Gram Panchayats and in Bihar the survey was conducted 10 revenue villages (11,937 households) in 5 Gram Panchayats. The baseline survey had two components i.e. Household survey and Water point survey

The Household survey was a sample survey. Using systematic random sampling method, 364 households in Odisha and 406 households in Bihar were surveyed. In addition to demographic profile and access to WASH services, the survey also enquired into hygiene behaviour patterns and the family’s participation in village level institutions and government programmes

The Water point survey was a census survey of all public waterpoints. The survey was designed to gather information about the SDG /JMP indicators and included key WASH parameters i.e. status of WASH services and an understanding of WASH-WRM linkages. This survey was a 100 % mapping of all public drinking water sources in the project sites Each surveyed water point was given a unique number based on administrative codes assigned by the Government of India to make this data comparable to existing government records, type and status of water source. Key information collected during the mapping survey included Water point access, quantity, quality, reliability and WRM related indicators.

A total of 489 water points In Odisha and 1011 water points in Bihar were surveyed.

Who conducted the survey

A group of community youth and representatives from Watershed landscape partners, conducted the surveys. Enumerators were trained on the data collection tools, field methodology and using apps, Akvo Flow and Akvo Caddisfly, for data collection and water quality testing in the field.

Survey Design / methodology and field briefing note


Survey tools / questionnaires

Odisha questionnaire




Bihar questionnaire




Data sets of the baseline mapping survey

Odisha Data Sets




Bihar Data Sets




Analysis and findings of baseline mapping survey

Analysis plan: Data on WASH -WRM status and service delivery was analysed and presented in easy to understand color-coded charts and maps for dissemination and dialogue between community and duty-bearers .

These insights supported interactions with the community and local government representatives (Gram Panchayat-GP) members to collectively develop an understanding of their WASH-WRM situation and initiate a dialogue to specific priorities to be identified for each village.

Village-level Dashboards - Ganjam District-Odisha
Gram Panchayat Village Data
Kanamana Village https://watershedsouthasia.akvolumen.org/s/H6bx-tNnPJA




Arjapali Village https://watershedsouthasia.akvolumen.org/s/-mpYLD4aW90
Augustinugaon Village https://watershedsouthasia.akvolumen.org/s/Rxfuem4GP-Y


Village-level Dashboards - Samastipur District, Bihar
Gram Panchayat Village Data
Bhagwanpur Kamla Village https://watershedsouthasia.akvolumen.org/s/GMteiUdw1AQ


Barbatta Village https://watershedsouthasia.akvolumen.org/s/HhpsKbnC1eY
Raipur Village https://watershedsouthasia.akvolumen.org/s/uFRA6jf4RPw


Lakhainipur Maheshpatti Village https://watershedsouthasia.akvolumen.org/s/JO0Ap8ZImyI


Please find below the latest project updates from team members of the Watershed India consortium.