Dec 2023

Soil and Water: A partnership of life


The interdependence of soil and water is a crucial ecological alliance, emphasising the need for sustainable management practices. Threats such as soil erosion and quality depletion pose risks, impacting flood potential and agricultural productivity. To address these challenges, integrated approaches are essential, emphasising sustainable soil management to enhance water availability, regulate retention, and mitigate climate change.

The reciprocal nature of soil and water, as outlined by the FAO, underscores their vital roles in supporting food production, ecosystems, and human well-being. Rainfed agriculture, covering 80% of croplands, relies on good soil moisture management, while irrigated agriculture, using 70% of global freshwater, is crucial for sustaining food production. The connection between soil health and water quality necessitates proactive protection measures, including wise pesticide use and conservation efforts. Healthy soils act as natural water filters, contributing to climate change mitigation, acting as carbon sinks. By addressing improper soil and water management collaboratively, humanity can enhance resilience, preserve biodiversity, and secure the foundations of life on Earth. This is where Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) play a vital role. Various ClimateRISE partner CSOs including Lipok Social Foundation, WASSAN and RySS, spearhead efforts in raising awareness about soil health, sustainable farming and effective water management practices. 

Let’s look at some of the techniques they are adopting to achieve this:

“Bamboo: A boon to farmers”, an alternative crop cultivation campaign by Lipok Social Foundation

Through campaigns like "Bamboo: A boon to farmers", Lipok, aims to educate communities on bamboo as an alternative to traditional crops, promoting soil health, sustainable farming and effective management of water while ensuring income generation. Their collaboration with Dilasa Sanstha, a grassroots level organisation based in rural Maharashtra aims to train farmers in Yavatmal district, Maharashtra in organic farming, with an anticipated impact on 230 farmers. Through their work, Lipok is blending traditional farming practices with modern technologies while driving home the importance of alternative crop cultivation for sustainability. And in doing so affirming the very crucial relationship of water and soil in our everyday lives.

“Jiwi Daah Hasa”, a capacity building and advocacy campaign by WASSAN

WASSAN, a member of the National Coalition of Natural Farming, focuses on sustainable farming, soil conservation, and watershed management. Their initiative "Jiwi Daah Hasa" focuses on enhancing Gram Panchayat capacities in MGNREGA planning to ensure more sustainable farming practices and educate farmers about soil conservation. Wassan's strategy encompasses a holistic perspective on sustainable agriculture, encompassing soil conservation and watershed management. Their goal is to impact agricultural policies by emphasising the integration of sustainable practices within established government frameworks.

“Zero-Budget”, a natural farming initiative, by RySS

RySS, an Andhra Pradesh government initiative, launched the 'Zero-Budget' Natural Farming initiative, targeting 8 million hectares and 6 million farmers. Through this initiative, they aim to help farmers transition towards more sustainable farming practices and reduce dependency on fertilisers and other chemicals. Their work spreads awareness about the importance of maintaining soil health.

Organisations, such as Lipok Social Foundation, RySS, and WASSAN, contribute to soil health and watershed management with a shared goal of preserving the crucial relationship between soil and water. Recognizing the potential consequences of any imbalance, these organisations actively engage key stakeholders, emphasising a community-inclusive and practice-driven approach for sustainable soil health preservation. 

As we commemorate World Soil Day, it is vital to understand the collaborative efforts required from civil society organisations, policy makers, and community members to address this delicate relationship. This year's theme, "Soil and Water: A Source of Life, underscores the importance of spreading awareness and collective efforts to tackle the intricate issues surrounding soil and water sustainability.

Photo Credit : PARI

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