Map of Pravah: where it is located in Maharashtra, India. Drawing: Sneha Malani.
It matters whose practices and knowledges are foregrounded in understanding and managing groundwater. This paper presents the findings of an ethnographic study of a relatively recent irrigation scheme that brings polluted water to farmers’ fields in a drought-prone area of Maharashtra, India. After establishing that
women farmers are the de facto water managers at household, field, and community levels, we use these findings to compare women farmers’ ways of doing groundwater with the dominant techno-managerial versions. Techno-managerial versions of groundwater make it appear to be either an optimizable input for crop production or a source for drinking and domestic uses. Women’s practices reveal that groundwater resists such classifications. Because of how it flows, seeps, and percolates, the polluted water earmarked for irrigation contaminates groundwater destined for other purposes. Rather than coming in neatly separated flows or containers, separating waters entails hard work and detailed knowledge. This is work that largely falls on women: they need to learn to appreciate and distinguish between water qualities as the basis for deciding which water to use for which purpose. The analysis underscores the importance of valuing this unremunerated and invisibilised work in water management. It also shows how feminist analyses contribute to and expand understandings of justice and sustainability in groundwater.
Leonardelli, I.; Kemerink-Seyoum, J.; Kulkarni, S.; Bhat, S. and Zwarteveen, M. 2023. A feminist analysis of women farmers navigating groundwater qualities in Maharashtra, India. Water Alternatives 16(1): 134-152
A Feminist Analysis of Women Farmers Navigating Groundwater
Qualities in Maharashtra, India
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