Collaboration in water research, training and education between Australia and India is growing rapidly through new initiatives supported by the Ministry of Jal Shakti, the Australian Water Partnership, Western Sydney University and the Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati to address the sustainable management of water – a pressing challenge for both countries and the world.
These partners launched an innovative mobile app called ‘MyWell’ to support farmers and villagers with monitoring and visualisation of groundwater, surface water, rainfall and water quality. The app also allows users to check dam water levels remotely.
The app will be used by villagers trained to manage their groundwater resources. These citizen scientists, called Bhujal Janakaar – “BJs’’ – are part of the ‘Managing Aquifer Recharge and Sustaining Groundwater Use through Village-level Intervention’ (MARVI) project. The app will help BJs and ordinary citizens to make sense of what is happening to water availability in their villages.
“MARVI is already transforming lives and farming communities through its unique approach to engaging and training villagers to monitor and manage groundwater. The concept of MARVI has been adapted for the Ministry’s ambitious national project, the Atal Bhujal Yojana,” said Ms Debashree Mukherjee, Special Secretary, Ministry of Jal Shakti. “The expansion of MARVI through the national project, together with MyWell, will empower BJs and ordinary citizens across India to self-manage water sustainably,” she said.
Western Sydney University and the Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati, lead of the Australia-India Water Centre, are closely working with partners in India to contribute to the Government of India’s Jal Jeevan Mission and transform the lives of farmers and train the next generation of water professionals. The Australia-India Water Centre brings together eight universities and one State Government Department from Australia, 16 Indian institutes of Technology, key universities and the Maharashtra Water Resources Department of India.
“The future of water security in India is also in the hands of future leaders in water management,” said Sarah Ransom, General Manager of the Australian Water Partnership. “I am pleased that the first cohort of 20 Young Water Professionals are graduating today from a 10-month training program delivered by the Australia-India Water Centre, led by Western Sydney University and the Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati.”
“The Young Water Professionals program is unique as it focuses on project-based learning with real-world situations and clients,” said Professor Barney Glover AO, Vice-Chancellor and President of Western Sydney University. “It not only provides technical capacity building, but it also develops the critical thinking, problem solving, leadership and project management skills needed for management of water resources and water management reforms in India,” he said.
“India and Australia are natural partners and this collaboration to train young water professionals is an important step in the right direction,” said Ms. Debashree Mukherjee. “I am particularly inspired by the equal participation of women. These will be our female leaders in future water management.”
Western Sydney University, ranked number one in the world for its social, ecological and economic impact in the latest Times Higher Education (THE) University Impact Rankings, is also rolling out a Joint Master program in Sustainable Water Futures, in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati.
“This degree is based on short courses – micro-credentials – and provides a great opportunity to build the capacity of water professionals through joint delivery by Australian and Indian partners of the Australia-India Water Centre,” said Professor T.G. Sitharam, Director, Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati.
“Collaboration is the key to the relationship between Australia and India,” said Professor Glover. “Partnerships, such as this significant network, drive our Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) impact, bringing together key players to tackle the pressing water challenges of our two countries.