Water is the most precious natural resource for the existence of all living organisms on earth. As human beings have not treated it respectfully in recent years, the situation regarding accessibility and availability of water is getting crucial day by day. In India, the groundwater levels are depleting at an alarming rate due to over exploitation. The quality of surface water reserves is degenerating due to pollution caused by discharge of wastewater, sewage and untreated industrial effluents. The state of rivers is getting worse due to unlawful activities across India. Due to damming almost all the rivers flow for only 8-10 months in a year. Above all the pollution due to solid wastes and effluents have destroyed the living organisms and aquatic life. Therefore most of the rivers in India are called ‘dying rivers’. There have been several discussions and debates happening around this degradation of rivers on theme - living rivers, dying rivers in India.
Efforts by various organisations are afoot to document the state of affairs, spread awareness and undertake activities on ground with community participation. It is seen that the peoples’ movements are building and strengthening due to empowerment through enhanced knowledge and better access to scientific studies.
CIS-A2K has initiated Project Jalbodh in collaboration with few organisations to generate water related content. In the last two years, various workshops were conducted with organisations working at the grassroots to develop the structure of articles, categorisation and re-licensing of source material. Tarun Bharat Sangh is leading this process by uploading 75 books & reports on river issues and creating articles on rivers in Marathi, Hindi and English Wikipedia projects.
During these content generation events it was realised that the organisations are working with communities closely, which are conversant mostly with local or regional languages only. The availability and access to water related resources in these languages is an important issue. The communities are in search of simple and ready to use content in various forms. They also require a platform on which they can document/archive their water conservation efforts for other communities to take lessons and motivation from these projects.
Research Question edit
How has the digital transition in India impacted the process of creation and access to water related resources; what are possible collaborations and processes to build open digital archives around water with special reference to rivers.
This study aims to -
- Document the nature of major online and offline knowledge repositories on water resources and their impact on creating awareness among civil society.
- Identify and develop the form of locally relevant digital knowledge resources on water that are accessible in regional languages, for generating awareness and promoting action for sustainable impact of conservation efforts.
- Explore the process of building digital archives (while drawing upon work done on Wikimedia in this area) of water knowledge resources with one interested organisation working consistently on this issue for more than 20 years.
The study would be undertaken through questionnaires/surveys with different stakeholders in the water resources sector. These include village level watershed committees, community based organisations, training institutions, policy level organisations, funding agencies, government departments and content developers. The questionnaire will be developed with participation from key representatives with some research work background. The organisations and stakeholder groups from 3 states of India would be selected through desk survey and institutional contacts.
The questionnaires will focus on the nature, objective and scope of the offline and online resources available, human resources involved, language aspects, documentation practices, methods of dissemination, utility, accessibility, training value of the material, IPR policies and public outreach efforts. The process of building a digital archive would be explored with one organisation through a series of interviews. The assessment of content already developed would be done.
Research Outputs edit
- Mapping of major online and offline knowledge repositories on water resources
- Identification of forms and structure of resources on digital platform
- Process flow for building digital archive on water with special reference to rivers
- December - January : Draft concept note to be shared on mailing lists for feedback; selection of stakeholders
- January - April : Interviews to be conducted
- May first week : Review of work and compilation
- May - June : Drafting and finalising of report
Revised timeline for 2021-22 edit
- July 2021: selection of stakeholders, short list and exhaustive list
- August - October: Interviews to be conducted
- November - December: Review of work and compilation
- Jan - Mar: Drafting of report
- April - June: Finalising of report
Revised timeline in January 2022 edit
- January - March: Remaining interviews to be completed
- April: Review of work and compilation
- May - June: Drafting and finalising the report
Till June 2021 edit
The online meetings were held with eight organisations working on various aspects to finalise the questionnaire and scope of the study. The selection of organisations based on work areas - Awareness, training, planning/designing of projects, execution on ground, monitoring & evaluation, documenting/building archives and research was initiated after this. However, as the representatives were completely new to the Wikimedia projects and CIS-A2K, they needed at least one detailed in-person meeting to go ahead with the study. As the second wave was severe in Maharashtra, the organisations were busy in Covid relief work as well. The travel restrictions did not allow these meetings. The study will be completed in next program year.
Till December 2021 edit
Based on different aspects of work, the following organisations were short listed.
- Tarun Bharat Sangh
Status as on 31 December 2021:
The first round of discussions around the objectives and questionnaire has been completed with - ACWADAM, MANAVLOK, BAIF, Tarun Bharat Sangh and AFARM. The detailed in-person interview was done with Dr. Himanshu Kulkarni of ACWADAM. The experts at ACWADAM were introduced to the Wikimedia projects. The organisation has expressed interest in releasing some of their publications and training material on Wikimedia Commons. Due to travel restrictions, the online interview process has been started with the other organisations.
The detailed interviews were completed with three organisations in online and offline mode. After the analysis of recordings, submitted details and notes, the final report was prepared and published on meta here.