Rejuvenating Watersheds for Agricultural Resilience through Innovative Development (REWARD) Program


    The most important natural resource, upon which all human activity is based since time immemorial, is land. Man’s inexorable progress towards development has, however, considerably damaged our land resource base. Further, land also suffers from various kinds of soil erosion, degradation and deforestation. As per the Desertification & Land Degradation Atlas of India 2021 released by Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change, about 97.85 million ha (29.77% of total geographical area of India) falls in degraded category in the country. To harness the full potential of the available land resources and prevent its further degradation, watershed development program is of great significance. The problem of degraded land and its management is complex and multi-dimensional and its development requires a scientific, holistic and innovative approach with people’s participation.

    The Government of India has committed to restore 26 million ha. of degraded land by 2030 as a signatory to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). Further, the recent G-20 summit held in New Delhi under the Chairmanship of Hon’ble Prime Minister of India has committed to restore at least 30% degraded ecosystem services by 2030 and also has the ambition of reducing land degradation by 50% by 2040.

    Scientific watershed management is not only a solution to address the land degradation and related issues but also contributes livelihood security in rainfed/degraded areas. India has one of the largest watershed management programs in the World which clearly shows the importance given to watershed development by various governments and other private and public sector units in the country.

    REWARD Program

    The World Bank assisted Rejuvenating Watersheds for Agricultural Resilience through Innovative Development (REWARD) program is a Watershed development program which is being implemented from 2021 to 2026 in the States of Karnataka and Odisha. The program aims to introduce modern watershed practices in the Department of Land Resources and in the States of Karnataka and Odisha.

    The REWARD program works on a financial instrument called “PforR” (Program for Results) which means World Bank will reimburse the loan amount against the achievement of Disbursement Linked Indicators (DLIs). The total budget of REWARD program is USD 167.71 million over a program period of 4.5 years. This includes USD 115 million from World Bank [Karnataka (USD 60 million), Odisha (USD 49 million) and DoLR (USD 6 million)], USD 46.71 million from two participating States [Karnataka (USD 25.71) and Odisha (USD 21.0 million)] and USD 6 million from DoLR. The funding pattern is 70:30, between World Bank and States, whereas it is 50:50 between World Bank and DoLR.

    Objective and Key result areas of REWARD

    The Development Objectives of REWARD program is to “Strengthen Capacities of National and State institutions to adopt improved watershed management for increasing farmers resilience and support value chains in selected watersheds of participating States”.
    The program focuses on two important result areas:

    a. Strengthened institutions and supportive policy for watershed development:
    b. Science based watershed development for climate resilience and enhanced livelihoods:

    Scope of REWARD at DoLR

    At the central level, the scope of the REWARD program covers management, monitoring, communication and knowledge sharing functions by DoLR. Specific role of DoLR is to finalise “National technical standards for improved watershed management and issue Government directive to States” which needs to be accomplished with the technical assistance of National Rainfed Area Authority (NRAA) along with its consortium partners – ICRISAT, NRSC, MANAGE & WASSAN.

    Expected Outcomes

    The REWARD is expected to introduce modern watershed practices and build the capacities of State and National technical intuitions in the field of watershed. The program envisage to provide crop, weather, soil and water related scientific advisories to farmers to increase soil moisture, biomass, reduce soil erosion & runoff. Overall, REWARD program will helps to increase the farm productivity and income levels of watershed community through application of modern and scientific practices in the field of watershed development.