Searching for frugality in crises: Knowledge, learning and innovation in, and around, rainwater harvesting based irrigation practices in central India

Research in Progress seminar by Birendra Singh
PhD student

Birendra Singh

Thursday 10 Nov 2022, 13:00 - 14:00
Spoken Language
Room 4.39
International Institute of Social Studies
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This seminar is open to the public. No registration required.

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Birendra Singh

In this seminar Birendra Singh investigates water scarcity mitigation and adaptation efforts by local farmers in the Bundelkhand region of India.

This investigation is conducted from a frugality perspective. Farmers' efforts include mainly 'back to basics and 'doing more with less' approaches which involve the revival of local rainwater harvesting methods, mixed cropping, organic farming and conventional seed breeding.

At the same time, the extension of scientific knowledge and deployment of technical fixes (solar panel, electric motors, drips, and sprinklers) through training, financial subsidy and diffusion of ICT is being propagated in the region as a suggested 'solution' to water scarcity. 

Singh's research suggests that that integrating local knowledge, that is mainly embedded in local farmers' lived experiences, with suggested and context-specific scientific knowledge is an essential part of local water scarcity adaptation and mitigation efforts. Sometimes, these integrations manifest through material artefacts (e.g., reusing or revamping the irrigation tools and machinery) in the form of frugal innovations.

However, he argues that solutions are context-specific and that frugality is inseparable from its context(s). Contextual factors determine not only what is frugal or not, but they also determine 'who' can be frugal or not.   


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The Research in Progress seminars are intended to provide an informal venue for presentations of ongoing research by ISS scholars and other scholars from the wider development studies community.

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