Stone Check Walls and Check Dams for Soil and Water Conservation [India]

technologies_5210 - India

Completeness: 92%

1. General information

1.2 Contact details of resource persons and institutions involved in the assessment and documentation of the Technology

Key resource person(s)

land user:

Jagdamba Joshi

Nakina Village


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1.3 Conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT

The compiler and key resource person(s) accept the conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT:


1.4 Declaration on sustainability of the described Technology

Is the Technology described here problematic with regard to land degradation, so that it cannot be declared a sustainable land management technology?


1.5 Reference to Questionnaire(s) on SLM Approaches (documented using WOCAT)

Community Forest Management in the Nakina Van Panchayat

Community Forest Management in the Nakina Van Panchayat [India]

Van Panchayats or village forest councils are a impressive example of grassroots community management of natural resources, where a specific administrative unit is locally elected by community members who are responsible for the management of activities related to the forest.

  • Compiler: Jaclyn Bandy
Naula Management and Conservation

Naula Management and Conservation [India]

Naulas are shallow, four-sided stepped wells designed to collect water from subterranean seepages or springs and are used to meet domestic water needs by the local communities. Naula management and conservation encompasses a range of activities that preserve their structure and function.

  • Compiler: Jaclyn Bandy

2. Description of the SLM Technology

2.1 Short description of the Technology

Definition of the Technology:

Stone Check Dams/Walls, Retainment Walls, and a Water Diversion Wall has been constructed in Nakina Village and Nakina Community Forest to help protect their settlements, agriculture land, forest land, and preserve the hilly landscape. These structures serve to reduce the runoff velocity (lowering the rate of erosion and gullying in steep slope channels) and increase infiltration for groundwater recharge.

2.2 Detailed description of the Technology


1. The technology is found in both natural and human environments (forest and settlement areas)

2. Main Characteristics: A check dam or check wall is constructed in a loose or active gully or a rill (shallow channel) that threatens to enlarge, or anywhere on a slope where there is a danger of scour from running water. The structures lower the velocity of flow. In Nakina porous check walls, check dams, and retainment walls were made out of stone gathered from the surrounding area. A porous check dam releases a portion of flow through the structure, decreases the head of flow over the spillway, and decreases the dynamic and hydrostatic forces against the check dam. Porous check dams are simple and more economical for construction.

Once stones are collected they are cut into suitable sizes and surfaces ( "dressing" of stones). The site where the technology is to be constructed is then cleared and, for check dams, the sides are sloped 1:1 (this simply refers to the ratio of the rise and run of the slope, so 1:1 means you'll have a 45 degree slope for your excavation). This is also known as the angle of repose, where the granular material of the embankment will be stable and not slump from its own weight. The base of the dam should be around 70 cm thick if it is 1 meter high. The bed of gully is excavated for foundation and dry stones are packed from that level.

3. Purposes/functions: Interrupts the flow of water and flattens the gradient of a channel, thereby reducing the velocity and inducing infiltration rather than eroding the channel. These structures not only slow flow velocity but also to distribute flows across vegetation. Despite some sedimentation resulting behind the dam, small cracks and porous spaces in the holes of the stones allow some sediment to flow through and the finer particles fill the gaps and strengthen the structure. Check dams can also be designed to create small reservoirs.

4. Major activities include identifying the appropriate site of installation, collection of construction materials, technical planning of the structure dimensions and design, manual labor, and maintenance.

5. Benefits/impacts: These structures decelerate runoff and accelerates groundwater recharging by storing water and facilitating infiltration of water into the soil

6. Like/Dislike:
•Inexpensive and relatively easy to install given local building materials and labor availability
•Reduce velocity, prevent gully erosion and cause a high proportion of the sediment load in runoff to settle out, preventing downstream damage
•When carefully located and designed, check dams can remain as permanent installations with very minor regrading

•Many of these structures have a temporary nature, and need to reconstructed or removed after significant damage
•Removal or reconstruction may be a significant cost depending on the size and design
•May kill grass linings in channels if the water level remains high after rainstorms or if there is significant sedimentation.
•May create turbulence which erodes the channel banks.
•Clogging by organic material may be a problem and hinder the structure's function

2.3 Photos of the Technology

2.5 Country/ region/ locations where the Technology has been applied and which are covered by this assessment



Region/ State/ Province:


Further specification of location:

Nakina Village, Pithoragarh Bloc

Specify the spread of the Technology:
  • applied at specific points/ concentrated on a small area
Is/are the technology site(s) located in a permanently protected area?


If yes, specify:

5 check dams are located in the protected forest of Nakina. The other structures are located in the village settlement (the 5 check walls are within the ravine) or just above the Bhind Spring (Naula).

2.6 Date of implementation

If precise year is not known, indicate approximate date:
  • more than 50 years ago (traditional)

2.7 Introduction of the Technology

Specify how the Technology was introduced:
  • through land users' innovation
  • as part of a traditional system (> 50 years)
  • through projects/ external interventions
Comments (type of project, etc.):

Check dams and other retainment structures are technologies that have been used for centuries. Some of the structures in the village are nearly +50 years old and have either been constructed with the help of the government (ravine check dams in settlement and above Bhind Naula) and others have been more recently constructed by the villagers themselves to support the forest landscape, specifically springshed recharge.

3. Classification of the SLM Technology

3.1 Main purpose(s) of the Technology

  • reduce, prevent, restore land degradation
  • conserve ecosystem
  • protect a watershed/ downstream areas – in combination with other Technologies
  • reduce risk of disasters
  • adapt to climate change/ extremes and its impacts

3.2 Current land use type(s) where the Technology is applied

Forest/ woodlands

Forest/ woodlands

  • (Semi-)natural forests/ woodlands
(Semi-)natural forests/ woodlands: Specify management type:
  • Selective felling
Type of (semi-)natural forest:
  • subtropical dry forest natural vegetation
  • quercus leucotrichophora (Banj oak)
Are the trees specified above deciduous or evergreen?
  • deciduous
Products and services:
  • Timber
  • Fuelwood
  • Grazing/ browsing
  • Nature conservation/ protection
Settlements, infrastructure

Settlements, infrastructure

  • Settlements, buildings

3.3 Has land use changed due to the implementation of the Technology?

Has land use changed due to the implementation of the Technology?
  • No (Continue with question 3.4)

3.4 Water supply

Water supply for the land on which the Technology is applied:
  • rainfed

3.5 SLM group to which the Technology belongs

  • cross-slope measure
  • water diversion and drainage
  • surface water management (spring, river, lakes, sea)

3.6 SLM measures comprising the Technology

structural measures

structural measures

  • S3: Graded ditches, channels, waterways
  • S6: Walls, barriers, palisades, fences

3.7 Main types of land degradation addressed by the Technology

soil erosion by water

soil erosion by water

  • Wt: loss of topsoil/ surface erosion
  • Wg: gully erosion/ gullying
  • Wm: mass movements/ landslides
  • Wr: riverbank erosion
  • Wo: offsite degradation effects
physical soil deterioration

physical soil deterioration

  • Ps: subsidence of organic soils, settling of soil
biological degradation

biological degradation

  • Bc: reduction of vegetation cover
  • Bq: quantity/ biomass decline
water degradation

water degradation

  • Hg: change in groundwater/aquifer level

3.8 Prevention, reduction, or restoration of land degradation

Specify the goal of the Technology with regard to land degradation:
  • prevent land degradation
  • reduce land degradation

4. Technical specifications, implementation activities, inputs, and costs

4.1 Technical drawing of the Technology

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Jaclyn Bandy



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Jaclyn Bandy



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Jaclyn Bandy



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Jaclyn Bandy



4.2 General information regarding the calculation of inputs and costs

Specify how costs and inputs were calculated:
  • per Technology unit
Specify unit:

1. Small Check Dams 2. Large Check Walls 3. Water Diversion Wall 4. Bhind Check Walls/Retainment wall

Specify dimensions of unit (if relevant):

1. 5 units (3.5m x 1.5m x 0.9m) 2. 5 units (8m x 1m x 2.7m) 3. 1 unit (115m x 0.65 x 0.95m) 4. 1 unit (100m x 1m x 1.5m)

other/ national currency (specify):


If relevant, indicate exchange rate from USD to local currency (e.g. 1 USD = 79.9 Brazilian Real): 1 USD =:


Indicate average wage cost of hired labour per day:

400 INR per head/day

4.3 Establishment activities

Activity Timing (season)
1. Nakina village built a long water diversion wall over +50 years ago that serves as a water channel, directing runoff away from settlements and towards the ravine Pre-monsoon /dry season
2. Within the ravine/gully in Nakina Village, there is a series of 5 large check walls that were established with the help of the Forest Department Pre-monsoon /dry season
3. There is a series of check walls/check dams in another gully that were established in 1952 above the Bhind Spring/Naula (on the opposite side of the village) to protect it and decrease runoff/further erosion Pre-monsoon/dry season
4. In December 2017 the Nakina Van Panchayat (community forest council) decided to construct 5 new check dams within the Nakina Forest, which lie in the upper catchment area of the Bhind Spring Pre-monsoon/dry season
5. For the establishment of all these structures, the community and technical assistants assessed the topography of the area, size of the gully, catchment area and runoff rate before establishing the check-dam. Pre-monsoon/dry season
6. The sites were selected and prepared by removing debris and other unsuitable material which would interfere with proper placement of the check dam/wall materials. Pre-monsoon/dry season

4.4 Costs and inputs needed for establishment

Specify input Unit Quantity Costs per Unit Total costs per input % of costs borne by land users
Labour Large Water Diversion Wall person-days 60.0 400.0 24000.0 20.0
Labour 5 Large Check Walls person-days 50.0 400.0 20000.0 20.0
Labour Bhind Spring Check Walls/Retainment Wall person-days 19.0 400.0 7600.0 50.0
Labour 5 Small Check Walls in Forest person-days 10.0 400.0 4000.0 100.0
Equipment Crate Wire (15m x 2m x 2m) Cum 60.0 75.0 4500.0
Equipment Pick pieces 15.0 300.0 4500.0 100.0
Equipment Shovel pieces 20.0 500.0 10000.0 100.0
Equipment pharuwa (hoe) pieces 15.0 300.0 4500.0 100.0
Equipment khanti (digging bar) pieces 10.0 1500.0 15000.0 100.0
Equipment hammer (5kg) pieces 10.0 2000.0 20000.0 100.0
Equipment chino (chisel) pieces 10.0 500.0 5000.0 100.0
Equipment khukuri (knife) pieces 10.0 250.0 2500.0 100.0
Plant material small hammer (0.5-1 kg) pieces 15.0 300.0 4500.0 100.0
Construction material Rocks of various size and shape collected/excavated on site
Construction material Small Check Walls in Forest (5) cum 23.625 200.0 4725.0 100.0
Construction material Large Check Walls (5) cum 108.0 200.0 21600.0 20.0
Construction material Large Water Diversion Wall (1) cum 71.0 200.0 14200.0 100.0
Construction material Bhind Check Walls/Retainment Wall (5) cum 150.0 200.0 30000.0 50.0
Other Rocks of various size and shape collected/excavated on site
Total costs for establishment of the Technology 196625.0
Total costs for establishment of the Technology in USD 2808.93
If land user bore less than 100% of costs, indicate who covered the remaining costs:

Uttarakhand Forest Department (Government), JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency)


Cost Estimate: 200 INR/cum
1. Small Check Dams: 5 units (3.5m x 1.5m x 0.9m) ----- 4.725 cum x 200 INR = 945 INR/unit
945 INR/unit x 5 units = 4,725 Rs
(4.725 cum/unit x 5 unit = 23.625 total cum )
(23.625 total cum x 200 INR = 4,725 Rs.)

2. Large Check Walls: 5 units (8m x 1m x 2.7m) -----21.6 x 200 = 4320
4320 cum x 5 units = 21,600 Rs

3. Water Diversion Wall: 1 unit (115m x 0.65 x 0.95m) ------71 x 200= 14,200
14,200 X 1 unit= 14,200 Rs

3. Bhind Spring Check Walls/Retainment Wall: 1 unit (100m x 1m x 1.5m) = 150 total cum
150 x 200 INR = 30,000 INR Total

4.5 Maintenance/ recurrent activities

Activity Timing/ frequency
1. Inspection of the check dam for rock displacement and erosion around the ends of the dam after each significant rainfall event Monsoon/ weekly
2. Sediment accumulation is removed if it reaches a depth of ½ the original dam height Pre-monsoon/Monsoon
3. Sometimes check dams are removed when their useful life is completed Annual inspections

4.6 Costs and inputs needed for maintenance/ recurrent activities (per year)

Specify input Unit Quantity Costs per Unit Total costs per input % of costs borne by land users
Labour Reconstruction of damaged check dams person-days/unit 10.0 400.0 4000.0 100.0
Labour Removal of sediment person-days/unit 5.0 400.0 2000.0 100.0
Equipment pick pieces 3.0 70.0 210.0 100.0
Equipment shovel pieces 3.0 42.0 126.0 100.0
Equipment pharuwa (hoe) pieces 2.0 52.0 104.0 100.0
Equipment khanti (digging bar) pieces 2.0 30.0 60.0 100.0
Equipment hammer pieces 3.0 25.0 75.0 100.0
Equipment chino (chisel) pieces 2.0 75.0 150.0 100.0
Equipment khukuri (knife) pieces 2.0 22.0 44.0 100.0
Equipment small hammer (0.5-1kg) pieces 3.0 120.0 360.0 100.0
Construction material Stones available at site locally
Total costs for maintenance of the Technology 7129.0
Total costs for maintenance of the Technology in USD 101.84

4.7 Most important factors affecting the costs

Describe the most determinate factors affecting the costs:

Size of the check dam/check wall
Frequency and intensity of the damage to the structures
Labor availability

5. Natural and human environment

5.1 Climate

Annual rainfall
  • < 250 mm
  • 251-500 mm
  • 501-750 mm
  • 751-1,000 mm
  • 1,001-1,500 mm
  • 1,501-2,000 mm
  • 2,001-3,000 mm
  • 3,001-4,000 mm
  • > 4,000 mm
Specify average annual rainfall (if known), in mm:


Specifications/ comments on rainfall:

Monsoon- mid-June to mid-September; July and August are the rainiest months and the temperature is warm and moist; between 70-85% of the annual precipitation occurs in the monsoon season

a. Winter or Cold weather (mid Dec. - mid March)
b. Summer or hot weather (mid March - mid June)
c. Season of general rains (South - West monsoon season)
d. Season of retreating monsoon (mid September to mid November)

Indicate the name of the reference meteorological station considered:

India Meteorological Department, Meteorological Centre Dehradun

Agro-climatic zone
  • sub-humid

The overall climatic condition in the Pithoragarh district is governed by the southwest monsoon. It has a sub-tropical to temperate climate, with three pronounced seasons; summer, winter, and monsoon. The hilly terrain of the Himalayan region has snow cover and is cold during winter with snowfall normally occurring during the months of December to March.

Temperature- The temperature ranges from 0°C to 10°C in winter and from 8°C to 33°C in summer season. However, there is no meteorological observatory in the district. The account of the climate is based mainly on the records of the observations in the neighboring districts where similar meteorological conditions prevail. Variations in temperature are considerable from place to place and depend upon elevation as well as aspect. As the insolation is intense at high altitudes, in summer temperatures are considerably higher in the open than in the shade.

5.2 Topography

Slopes on average:
  • flat (0-2%)
  • gentle (3-5%)
  • moderate (6-10%)
  • rolling (11-15%)
  • hilly (16-30%)
  • steep (31-60%)
  • very steep (>60%)
  • plateau/plains
  • ridges
  • mountain slopes
  • hill slopes
  • footslopes
  • valley floors
Altitudinal zone:
  • 0-100 m a.s.l.
  • 101-500 m a.s.l.
  • 501-1,000 m a.s.l.
  • 1,001-1,500 m a.s.l.
  • 1,501-2,000 m a.s.l.
  • 2,001-2,500 m a.s.l.
  • 2,501-3,000 m a.s.l.
  • 3,001-4,000 m a.s.l.
  • > 4,000 m a.s.l.
Indicate if the Technology is specifically applied in:
  • concave situations
Comments and further specifications on topography:

Altitude of evaluated sites: 1800-1990m
Average Slope: 25-+30%

5.3 Soils

Soil depth on average:
  • very shallow (0-20 cm)
  • shallow (21-50 cm)
  • moderately deep (51-80 cm)
  • deep (81-120 cm)
  • very deep (> 120 cm)
Soil texture (topsoil):
  • coarse/ light (sandy)
  • medium (loamy, silty)
Soil texture (> 20 cm below surface):
  • medium (loamy, silty)
Topsoil organic matter:
  • medium (1-3%)
  • low (<1%)
If available, attach full soil description or specify the available information, e.g. soil type, soil PH/ acidity, Cation Exchange Capacity, nitrogen, salinity etc.

Mountain/hill soils are a collective name given to various types of soils found under the following conditions :
-under sub-tropical, temperate and sub-alpine conditions
-under various forest types

Characteristics: very thin, fertile, and may be less than a centimeter deep on steep slopes; they are mixed with pebbles, shingles (a mass of small rounded pebbles), and gravels; they have a low-medium water holding capacity. Angular and subangular fragments of parent rock may be found mixed with the lower layers of the mountain and hill soils.

Texture: varies from loamy to sandy loam.
Soil Reaction: ranges from acidic to neutral (pH 4.6 to 6.5)
Organic Matter content: 1-5%

Ferrugenous red roils are found in this district and are well developed over Himalayan rocks (quartzite, biotite schist, amphibolite schist). They are free of carbonates and deficient in nitrogen, humus and phosphorus, light textured, porous, and friable (brittle/crumbly). The soil depth ranges from about 10cm-75 cm. These soils may be grouped into two on basis of morphology

1. Red earths- loose, friable topsoil rich in secondary concretions (hard, compact mass of matter formed by the precipitation of mineral cement within the spaces between particles, and is found in sedimentary rock or soil)
2. Red loam- argillaceous soils having a blocky structure (argillaceous minerals may appear silvery upon optical reflection and are minerals containing substantial amounts of clay-like components, e.g. argillaceous limestones are limestones consisting predominantly of calcium carbonate, but including 10-40% of clay minerals)

Brown soil: is found particularly under dense broadleaved temperate and sub-alpine forests. There occurs a thick layer of humus on the forest floor (made of decomposed leaves, branches, twigs) and the topsoil is extremely rich in humus

Podsolic Soil: soil that has developed in humid/temperate conditions usually under coniferous forests (e.g. deodar, blue pine, fir, spruce) over quartzite, granites, schists and gneiss.

Citation: Kumaun: The Land and the People, Sharad Singh Negi (1993)

5.4 Water availability and quality

Ground water table:

> 50 m

Availability of surface water:


Water quality (untreated):

good drinking water

Water quality refers to:

ground water

Is water salinity a problem?


Is flooding of the area occurring?


Comments and further specifications on water quality and quantity:

Quantity: Water crisis has been a perennial problem in both the rural and urban areas of the Pithoragarh district
There is scarcity of safe drinking water of the villages in the study area. Hand pumps are often not functioning, pipe-water schemes are unreliable and the spring discharges have reduced during the dry season. Hand-pumped water often has a high iron content and bitter taste. Poor quality of groundwater in some of the naulas is mainly due to misuse and/or disuse of the structures.

A block-district groundwater resource estimation could not be carried out as the area is hilly (with slope >20%) and in major part aquifers are small, isolated bodies, and groundwater abstraction is done mainly through hand pumps and springs with small discharges.

However, we collected some physicochemical parameters that indicate the water (sourced from springs) is of good quality:

Water Quality Parameters of Springs:
pH: 6.29-8.18
Temp: 19.0-23.5 ºC
Electrical Conductivity: 109-504 µmsiemens
Total Dissolved Solids: 75-385 ppm

Other Parameters (from springs of nearby district, Champawat)
Electrical Conductivity: 127-222 µmsiemens
pH: 7.69-8.24
Calcium: 16-36 mg/l
Magnesium: 4.9-7.3 mg/l
Bicarbonate: 61-134 mg/l
Chloride: 5.3- 8.9 mg/l
Total Hardness as CaCO3: 70-110 mg/l

Source: Government of India Ministry of Water Resources, Central Ground Water Board, 2009 Groundwater Brochure of Champawat District (2009)

5.5 Biodiversity

Species diversity:
  • medium
Habitat diversity:
  • medium
Comments and further specifications on biodiversity:

Uttarakhand has more than 7000 species of medicinal plants and 500 species of fauna. Floral diversity contributes 31% of total floral density of India. Fauna contributes just 1.58% of the total faunal density of the country. There are 119 endemic species of flowering plants in the state that exhibited 2.35% endemism and 35 faunal endemic species. Because it lies at the juncture of India, Nepal and the Tibeten Autononmous region, there often cases of poaching and smuggling of wildlife contrabands, including bear bile, musk pods and leopard skins through the borders. Yarsa Gumba Ophiocordyceps sinensis, commonly known as Caterpillar Fungus, is also illegally traded transboundary in the region, together with various plant species. Due to anthropogenic impacts, changes is soil quality, and climatic elements, the biodiversity of our study site is not as high as in other areas of the Pithoragarh district.

Citation: Sundriyal, M. & Sharma, B. (2016). Status of Biodiversity in Central Himalaya, Applied Ecology and Environmental Sciences, 4( 2), 37-43.

5.6 Characteristics of land users applying the Technology

Sedentary or nomadic:
  • Sedentary
Market orientation of production system:
  • subsistence (self-supply)
  • mixed (subsistence/ commercial)
Off-farm income:
  • 10-50% of all income
Relative level of wealth:
  • poor
Individuals or groups:
  • groups/ community
Level of mechanization:
  • manual work
  • women
  • men
Age of land users:
  • youth
  • middle-aged
  • elderly
Indicate other relevant characteristics of the land users:

With recent development in Pithoragarh, an influx of funds coming from outside sources has caused a decline in the importance of agriculture production, which in now marginalized, based on female labour, and mainly conducted for subsistence with little surplus to sell. High caste men do not work in cultivation at all, and male tasks such as ploughing are performed by the Scheduled Caste.

Although most women are still cultivating, their work has lost economic importance. For most families, the produce does not cover the needs of the household and surplus must be bought from the market. Many of the terraces that were formerly fruit orchards (mainly citrus) have been completely abandoned. Farming is less intensive and landholdings are small and fragmented. The main crops are wheat, millet, and pulses, but yields are low as the land is not irrigated. Less livestock (cows, goats, buffalo) is kept because of the labor involved. Very little capital is returned to farming. Crops produced for the markets in the plains are replacing traditional crops to sustain the household.

With exposure to the“Modern” lifestyle, new values have also been accepted. Two children are the norm (the ideal being one son and one daughter, but at least one son in a must). Although access to education is quite good, it does not seem to result in working careers for women. The women, both young and old, spend their days with domestic and agriculture work. Several village persons stated that it would be best to educate their daughters so they could get a government job.

5.7 Average area of land used by land users applying the Technology

  • < 0.5 ha
  • 0.5-1 ha
  • 1-2 ha
  • 2-5 ha
  • 5-15 ha
  • 15-50 ha
  • 50-100 ha
  • 100-500 ha
  • 500-1,000 ha
  • 1,000-10,000 ha
  • > 10,000 ha
Is this considered small-, medium- or large-scale (referring to local context)?
  • small-scale

5.8 Land ownership, land use rights, and water use rights

Land ownership:
  • communal/ village
Land use rights:
  • communal (organized)
Water use rights:
  • open access (unorganized)
  • communal (organized)
Are land use rights based on a traditional legal system?



Under the Kumaun Panchayat forest rules of 1931 (amended in 1976): A Van Panchayat, (community forest council), can be formed out of non-private land within the settlement boundaries of a village. Accordingly, all villagers are members of the VP upon their approval by a Sub-Divisional Magistrate under the state Revenue Department. The members are collectively referred to as the general body, which selects the management committee members through a democratic process.


5-9 elected members assume control and regulation of forest resources. They additionally raise funds and mobilize the village to protect and support sustainable land use.

5.9 Access to services and infrastructure

  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
technical assistance:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
employment (e.g. off-farm):
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
roads and transport:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
drinking water and sanitation:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
financial services:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good

The situation of infrastructure is difficult and inconsistent in the hill regions because of the terrain. The major infrastructural issues are drinking water and irrigation facilities, electricity, transportation and communication facilities and social infrastructure (housing and education). As for financial services, only the State Bank of India (SBI) is active in the hill regions where it is trying to achieve the objective of 100% financial inclusion. Some villages mentioned buying into into agricultural insurance in the past, however this was a temporary enterprise and they were never compensated after extreme climatic events that occurred and damaged over 70% of their crop.

Though infrastructure and education has generally improved over the years, institutional and marketing networks in the region aimed at supporting hill-farmers are lacking.

6. Impacts and concluding statements

6.1 On-site impacts the Technology has shown

Socio-economic impacts


forest/ woodland quality


land management

Comments/ specify:

The check dams helped deter the damage from runoff to their settlements and conserved the forest trail that is commonly used to access the areas where fodder/grass collection is permitted.

Socio-cultural impacts

SLM/ land degradation knowledge

Comments/ specify:

People have seen the benefits of constructing these structures, and they continue to participate in maintaining and building more check dams to reduce erosion and increase groundwater recharge.

Ecological impacts

Water cycle/ runoff

water quantity


harvesting/ collection of water


surface runoff


excess water drainage


groundwater table/ aquifer




soil moisture


soil cover


soil loss


soil accumulation


soil crusting/ sealing


soil compaction


nutrient cycling/ recharge

Biodiversity: vegetation, animals

Vegetation cover


biomass/ above ground C

Climate and disaster risk reduction

landslides/ debris flows


drought impacts


impacts of cyclones, rain storms


fire risk




6.2 Off-site impacts the Technology has shown

water availability


reliable and stable stream flows in dry season


downstream siltation


buffering/ filtering capacity


damage on neighbours' fields


damage on public/ private infrastructure


6.3 Exposure and sensitivity of the Technology to gradual climate change and climate-related extremes/ disasters (as perceived by land users)

Gradual climate change

Gradual climate change
Season increase or decrease How does the Technology cope with it?
annual temperature increase well
other gradual climate change Irregular rainfall increase well

Climate-related extremes (disasters)

Meteorological disasters
How does the Technology cope with it?
local rainstorm well
Climatological disasters
How does the Technology cope with it?
drought well
forest fire well
Hydrological disasters
How does the Technology cope with it?
flash flood well
landslide moderately

Some check dams and check walls are more durable than others. Depending on the site specific conditions, some do very well after incidences such as after an extreme rainstorm. However this depends on the design/structural soundness, the level of maintenance, and overall hydrological impact. For example, the large check walls in the ravine of Nakina have required immense reconstruction and have required significant effort to maintain, as they receive a huge amount of flow during monsoon each year. The size and slope of the gully are impactful determinants for how sensitive/enduring the structure is.

6.4 Cost-benefit analysis

How do the benefits compare with the establishment costs (from land users’ perspective)?
Short-term returns:


Long-term returns:

very positive

How do the benefits compare with the maintenance/ recurrent costs (from land users' perspective)?
Short-term returns:


Long-term returns:



Although maintenance can be troublesome and require lots of manual labor for repair, the long term benefits and avoided damage from monsoon runoff outweigh the costs/effort.

6.5 Adoption of the Technology

  • > 50%
Of all those who have adopted the Technology, how many did so spontaneously, i.e. without receiving any material incentives/ payments?
  • 11-50%

In many cases, collective action is encountered at all stages for these technologies, from planning and construction, to demolition of temporary check-dams without any technical or financial backing from the state.

6.6 Adaptation

Has the Technology been modified recently to adapt to changing conditions?


6.7 Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities of the Technology

Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the land user’s view
Decrease velocity of runoff and erosive processes to the landscape
Support recharge of groundwater/springshed recharge
Increase water availability for surrounding vegetation
Well constructed check dams function as permanent installations and require little maintenance
The technology is relatively inexpensive and easy to install
Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view
Views aligned with the land-user
There is potential for the village to construct more check dams and use the water for storage/irrigation purposes

6.8 Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks of the Technology and ways of overcoming them

Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the land user’s view How can they be overcome?
Removal and reconstruction can be costly for some types of check dams Give thorough attention to the criteria for the site selection to avoid the need for removal; stress the need for maintenance and structure check ups.
There can be turbulence downstream, causing erosion of the channel banks. Vegetative interventions can support these structures, so trees or shrubs can be planted around and in the spaces between check dams to further decrease runoff velocity, increase infiltration, and act as a shock absorber.
Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view How can they be overcome?
Aligned with the land user The government should consider providing appropriate incentives for constructing and managing check-dams, which enable more efficient use of water and also generate the positive externality of recharging ground water in surrounding areas.
Check dam construction, if not done by skilled labour, can fail. These situations often arise and become noticeable to the land users when check-dams located upstream are damaged and there is a rapid flow of water to check-dams located downstream. Special maintenance can be performed by designated people to monitor the status of check dams upstream
The large check dams have consistent issues and appear to require more reconstruction. These structures are located downstream and must bear more pressure. The reason for their damage could be inconsistency in repairing existing damage before monsoon. Construction cost is then increased, as additional cost is incurred in removing the accumulated silt and arranging new boulders. The land users should organize themselves more formally for check dam reconstruction is this area. Collectively generating the necessary capital and labor needed for timely reconstruction may be required from external sources like the Forest Department or JICA organization.

7. References and links

7.1 Methods/ sources of information

  • field visits, field surveys


  • interviews with land users


When were the data compiled (in the field)?


7.2 References to available publications

Title, author, year, ISBN:

Evaluation of the effect of porous check dam location on fine sediment retention (a case study), A. M. Hassanli, A. Esmaeli Nameghi, S. Beecham, 2007.

Available from where? Costs?

DOI 10.1007/s10661-008-0318-2

7.3 Links to relevant online information

Title/ description:

Mainstreaming Slope Stability Management


Title/ description:

Policy Brief: Spring Revival through Sustainable Land Management (SLM) in the Himalayan Foothills: Uttarakhand, North India. Author: Liniger HP, Bandy J, Year: 2020


Title/ description:

Video: SLM for Himalayan Spring Revival. Author: Liniger HP, Bandy J, Year: 2020


Links and modules

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