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The downstream externalities of harvesting rainwater in semi-arid watersheds: An Indian case study


  • Bouma, Jetske A.
  • Biggs, Trent W.
  • Bouwer, Laurens M.


Water-related investment projects affect downstream water availability, and therefore should account for these externalities. Few projects do, however, owing to lack of awareness, lack of data and difficulty in linking upstream investments to downstream effects. This article assesses the downstream impacts of rainwater harvesting in a semi-arid basin in Southern India, focusing on the trade-offs that arise when crop water use is re-allocated from a downstream surface water irrigation system to groundwater irrigated agriculture upstream. The results indicate that the downstream impacts are considerable and that net benefits are insufficient to pay back investment costs. Further research is required to reduce the uncertainties in the water balance of irrigation systems at basin level, to account for the inter-annual variability of crop water availability and to elaborate the wider welfare effects.

Suggested Citation

  • Bouma, Jetske A. & Biggs, Trent W. & Bouwer, Laurens M., 2011. "The downstream externalities of harvesting rainwater in semi-arid watersheds: An Indian case study," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 98(7), pages 1162-1170, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:agiwat:v:98:y:2011:i:7:p:1162-1170

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Datta, Nirupam, 2015. "Evaluating Impacts of Watershed Development Program on Agricultural Productivity, Income, and Livelihood in Bhalki Watershed of Bardhaman District, West Bengal," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 443-456.
    2. Ralph Lasage & Jeroen Aerts & Peter Verburg & Alemu Sileshi, 2015. "The role of small scale sand dams in securing water supply under climate change in Ethiopia," Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, Springer, vol. 20(2), pages 317-339, February.
    3. Kumar, Shalander & Ramilan, Thiagarajah & Ramarao, C.A. & Rao, Ch. Srinivasa & Whitbread, Anthony, 2016. "Farm level rainwater harvesting across different agro climatic regions of India: Assessing performance and its determinants," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 176(C), pages 55-66.
    4. Giordano, Meredith & de Fraiture, Charlotte, 2014. "Small private irrigation: Enhancing benefits and managing trade-offs," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 131(C), pages 175-182.
    5. Prathapar, S. & Dhar, S. & Rao, G. Tamma & Maheshwari, B., 2015. "Performance and impacts of managed aquifer recharge interventions for agricultural water security: A framework for evaluation," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 159(C), pages 165-175.
    6. S. Nedumaran & Beleke Shiferaw & M. Bantilan & K. Palanisami & Suhas Wani, 2014. "Bioeconomic modeling of farm household decisions for ex-ante impact assessment of integrated watershed development programs in semi-arid India," Environment, Development and Sustainability: A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Theory and Practice of Sustainable Development, Springer, vol. 16(2), pages 257-286, April.
    7. Glendenning, C.J. & van Ogtrop, F.F. & Mishra, A.K. & Vervoort, R.W., 2012. "Balancing watershed and local scale impacts of rain water harvesting in India—A review," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 1-13.
    8. Bouma, Jetske A. & Hegde, Seema S. & Lasage, Ralph, 2016. "Assessing the returns to water harvesting: A meta-analysis," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 163(C), pages 100-109.


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