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Transforming parched villages

ISP Pune Bureau 

India is faced with climate change vulnerability impacting socio-economic development of the country. We are fast approaching a huge water crisis. Indian cities are already feeling the heat and running out of water. Both surface and groundwater resources are fast depleting. 

With just 4 percent of the world’s water resources available India for 17 percent of the global population, we are tasked with combating this imbalance urgently. One person who has worked steadfastly in the direction of founding organisations and alliances for the cause is Crispino Lobo, Managing Trustee of WOTR. An organisation he co-founded with Fr. Hermann Bacher which has today grown to become a leading organisation specialised in watershed development in South Asia. 

For the last three decades, Crispino has been involved in the development of rural areas, from planning to program management to political engagement. His areas of expertise include resource management, watershed development, integrated water management, sustainable agriculture and adaptation to climate change.

Crispino is a graduate of Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and the Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics at Pune with degrees in philosophy, theology, psychology, economics, and public administration. He is the author and co-author of several articles and seven books, three of which have also been published internationally.

He has been regularly involved in the preparatory budget consultations in the field of agriculture. In 2017, Crispino was appointed by the government of the state of Maharashtra to the Expert Working Group on Water Resources Management of the NITI Aayog and the Platform on Water Governance.

In 1999, together with NABARD, he initiated the establishment of the Watershed Development Fund by the Indian central government, which supports Watershed development projects in several states through NGOs. In 2014 he initiated the establishment of the National Adaptation Fund (NAF), which is now under the direction of the Indian Ministry for the Environment, Forests and Climate Change.

In his efforts to institutionalise water conservation work in India, he co-founded four non-profit organisations in his lifetime which includes Watershed Organisation Trust (WOTR), Sampada Trust (ST), Sanjeevani Institute of Empowerment and Development (SIED), and Sampada Entrepreneurship and Livelihood Foundation (SELF). 

Crispino believes in synergising energies and has extensively promoted collaboration with over 230 NGOs and facilitated nearly 16,000 Self Help Groups involving about 200,000 women. The efforts have helped make a major impact on the ground. Over 1.45 million hectares of degraded landscapes have been regenerated through the efforts of this alliance. Over 158 billion litres total water storage capacity has been created and farm incomes in most of these project villages have at least doubled.  

The organisations founded and mentored by Crispino Lobo have changed the lives of over 4.78 million people in 10 Indian states until now. He has trained more than 607,000 people from 27 states and 63 countries, supported development projects in more than 5,592 villages and has helped rescue the degenerating water ecosystem in the rural areas of India.

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