In the first week of April 2018, a final evaluation of the Resilience Project was successfully carried out by Lea, Benedikte and Carlos, our external evaluator. After more than 3,5 years, the Resilience Project has produced many significant results in the Sundarbans which was documented and collected by the team in collaboration with participating groups in the villages, local authorities and project staff.
The evaluation team visited 8 out of the project’s 11 municipalities and met with self-help groups, village committees, water-user-groups, local authorities, villagers, field workers and other implementing partners. More than 300 people participated in the evaluation and contributed with tremendous insight that helped the evaluation team assess and record the changes and challenges experienced throughout the project.
Women in self-help-groups, village committees and water-user-groups demonstrated substantial knowledge on groundwater issues, the condition of the embankments and how to prepare for emergencies. Many of the villages have established task forces and disaster risk mitigation committees, so it is known, in case of an emergency, who will take care of alerting villagers, rescue vulnerable groups, perform first aid and secure water supply and sanitation. Self-help-groups and water-user-groups have promoted proper water-fetching-methods in order to minimize waste of groundwater and in many cases they have formulated rules, which has been put up next to the pumps. These as well as other initiatives have resulted in many villagers having changed their behaviour and use of groundwater for domestic purposes.
Besides disaster preparedness and becoming more aware of the groundwater issues in their respected areas, the women have gained the confidence and capacity to propose solutions to their local authorities, that were formerly only addressed by men. These proposals address the issue of water supply, damaged embankments and roads. Many of these solutions have already been implemented. The accomplishments of the women’s groups have been acknowledged by other villagers and especially male villagers who emphasised an increased respect and positive attitude towards the groups due to the visible impact in their communities.
As some of the above mentioned examples illustrate, the evaluation proved that many positive changes have taken place as a result of the project. However, challenges still persist. Irrigation continues to be the main cause of acute groundwater levels, which testifies to the fact that getting the men on board and changing agricultural practices has to be considered in the pursuit of ensuring sustainable water management. This is the focus in UBU’s newest application, which we hope will be approved as time is of the essence in order to ensure sustainable water supply in the future.