Abstract

The world today is the victim of climate change; rising temperatures, erratic rainfall and extreme weather events leading to overexploitation of groundwater for various purposes at agricultural and household level. The present study is an action research applying a seven-step approach of social marketing to bring change in water use behaviour of rural people of Punjab, India. Findings revealed that the overall level of awareness of the majority of the respondents regarding climate change was found to be medium. They also suggested that awareness of effects of climate change on water resources and factors responsible for water depletion should be created among farming families to make them water saving conscious. Thus, an awareness campaign consisting of rallies and street plays was conducted. Knowledge regarding water saving technologies was imparted through skill training. Adoption of small water saving devices on a trial basis was facilitated by distributing water literacy kits. Post-knowledge test data revealed that the knowledge of 68.0% farmers and 61.33% of farm women increased to a high level after intervention. All the respondents adopted distributed technologies on a trial basis. The social marketing approach proved to bring about change in the water use behaviour of rural people and impacted their knowledge and adoption level.

INTRODUCTION

Water is the very basis of life and is the foundation for human survival and development. In the last few decades, the consequences of climate change, population growth, industrialisation and urbanisation, and the associated consumerist culture have interfered with the natural hydrological cycle of rainfall, soil moisture, groundwater, surface water and storage of all sizes. India is the largest groundwater user in the world, with an estimated usage of around 230 km3 per year. Agricultural demand for irrigation is the single largest draw on India's water, yet estimates by the Ministry of Water Resources indicate that by the year 2050 irrigation needs will rise by 56%. From the climate change viewpoint, India's groundwater hotspots are concentrated in the seven states of Punjab, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu (Shah 2009).

The groundwater levels in Punjab are largely attributed to unsustainable consumption of groundwater for irrigation and other uses along with increased runoff and/or evapotranspiration, which climate change may further exacerbate. A key regional-scale study using Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite data, published by Rodell et al. (2009), showed that across the states of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan, groundwater was lost at a rate of more than 50 km3 per year from 2002 to 2008. This rate of falling groundwater table is increasing every year.The total water availability in Punjab falls short of the available water supply by 1.28 million hectare metre (mha-M) and the deficit is being met by overexploitation of groundwater resources (Aggarwal et al. 2016). The climatic projections from regional-scale climate modeling indicate increased surface temperatures, and increased but highly variable rainfall events. Thus, there is great uncertainty with respect to the use and impact of groundwater resources in the future.

According to the Water Policy and Action Plan 2020, the proper management of our limited water resources will be essential to ensure food security for our growing population and to eliminate poverty (Kathpalia & Kapoor 2002). To minimise the negative impacts of the overuse and misuse of water and to ensure that our precious water resources are used optimally, various scientific studies have been conducted and are in progress to develop technologies to save water at both agricultural and household levels. Fewer attempts have been made to sensitise end users regarding water conservation. This requires behavioural changes for using water.

The behavioural change literature affirms that water conservation can be achieved through encouraging residents to engage in more rational and considered consumption (Hurlimann & Dolnicar 2010; Sáiz et al. 2010) and/or motivating appeals (Jackson 2005). Researchers have suggested the application of social marketing as a means of changing individual water use behaviours (Rosenbaum & Wong 2015). Social marketing is recognised as a credible behaviour change discipline and has been widely adopted to foster social change (McKenzie-Mohr 2011; Andreasen 2012; French & Gordon 2015; Rundle-Thiele et al. 2015) and has previously been used to tackle water consumption behaviour (Whitmarsh & O'Neill 2010). Jesperson (2005) found that a four-year-long social marketing campaign using positive messaging was able to reduce the water consumption of 700,000 people to a sustainable level in Florida, USA, through convincing this population that they were part of the solution to overconsumption, not the problem. In a mixed-method study of 909 households in a large regional Australian city, Lowe et al. (2015) applied social marketing to reduce problematic water consumption from 250 L per person to 150 L per person per day. Their study found that in the absence of price as a constraint mechanism, social marketing programmes significantly reduced household water consumption (Lowe et al. 2015). Social marketing has proved to be a marketing application to induce, encourage and promote social change entirely, rather than to just provide ideas or information, e.g., cognitive change; otherwise, education and promotion would be enough to solve the issues.

The present study was an action research by applying a seven-step approach of social marketing to bring change in the water use behaviour of people. To overcome the effect of climate change on water resources and to bridge the gap between demand and supply of water, it is the need of the hour to disseminate the available knowledge on water saving technologies to sensitise people at grass-root level about the problem and the available solutions so that future generations can be saved from scarcity of water. The study was conducted with the following objectives:

  • To study the level of awareness about the effect of climate change on groundwater and agriculture.

  • To bring change in the water use behaviour of rural people at household and agricultural levels using a social marketing approach.

  • To assess the impact of the social marketing approach in terms of gain in knowledge and adoption of water saving technologies.

METHODOLOGY

Market segmentation

Market segmentation is a core technique that seeks to identify and develop a reliable and clear understanding of different groups that share common characteristics within the audience targeted (French 2017). Research has proved that targeting specific audience segments increases the efficiency and effectiveness of marketing campaigns (Andreasen 1995; Ibrahim et al. 2018).

The study was conducted in Punjab, India. On the basis of available water resources and groundwater use, Punjab is divided into three zones, i.e., north-east zone, central zone and south-west zone. All the three zones have distinct water problems. The north-east zone has high rainfall but a deep water table; the central zone has a higher rate of groundwater depletion due to an increase in the use of tubewells for irrigating the paddy crop. The south-west zone has problems of water logging and alkalinity of soil (Figure 1) (Kaur et al. 2011). One district from each of the zones was selected on the basis of the rate of groundwater depletion, namely, Ropar, Ludhiana and Faridkot districts. For each selected district, a list of villages with data on the rate of groundwater depletion and crop rotation was prepared. From the prepared list, one village with the highest rate of groundwater depletion and paddy–wheat crop rotation was selected from each of the selected districts, namely, Sandhua (Ropar), Talwandi Khurd (Ludhiana) and Ransingh Wala (Faridkot). Forty farm women and 40 farmers were randomly selected from each village, comprising a sample of 240 respondents for the study. Responses were recorded separately from farmers and farm women due to their diverse roles in agriculture and the household.

Figure 1

Water zones of Punjab, India.

Figure 1

Water zones of Punjab, India.

Seven-step model of social marketing approach

After market segmentation, the seven-step model of social marketing approach, as proposed by Robinson (1998), was applied as an action research for the purpose of the study, i.e., changing the water use behaviour of people. The steps covered in the approach are shown in Table 1.

Table 1

Seven-step model of social marketing approach to change water use behaviour

StepsStep of behaviour changeApproach
Step 1 Knowledge/awareness (I know) Assessing the level of awareness of respondents regarding effect of climate change on availability of groundwater for household and agriculture use 
Step 2 Desire (I want to) Organising awareness programme ‘Jal-Dhara’ to create an urge to solve the problem and generating awareness through organising rallies and street plays 
Step 3 Skill (I can) Organising training to enable the masses on water saving technologies using developed/upgraded water literacy kit 
Step 4 Optimism (It's worthwhile) Organising demonstrations to show the worth of water saving technologies 
Step 5 Facilitation (It's easy) Providing know-how demonstrative support system to facilitate the adoption of technologies 
Step 6 Stimulation (I am joining in) Motivational approach to adopt the technologies at individual level or at community level by organising field trips and meetings with successful farmers and farm women who are using water saving technologies 
Step 7 Feed back and reinforcement (That was a success) Conducting pre- and post-knowledge test and observation approach to assess the impact of the awareness campaign ‘Jal-Dhara’ and the adoption of water saving technologies 
StepsStep of behaviour changeApproach
Step 1 Knowledge/awareness (I know) Assessing the level of awareness of respondents regarding effect of climate change on availability of groundwater for household and agriculture use 
Step 2 Desire (I want to) Organising awareness programme ‘Jal-Dhara’ to create an urge to solve the problem and generating awareness through organising rallies and street plays 
Step 3 Skill (I can) Organising training to enable the masses on water saving technologies using developed/upgraded water literacy kit 
Step 4 Optimism (It's worthwhile) Organising demonstrations to show the worth of water saving technologies 
Step 5 Facilitation (It's easy) Providing know-how demonstrative support system to facilitate the adoption of technologies 
Step 6 Stimulation (I am joining in) Motivational approach to adopt the technologies at individual level or at community level by organising field trips and meetings with successful farmers and farm women who are using water saving technologies 
Step 7 Feed back and reinforcement (That was a success) Conducting pre- and post-knowledge test and observation approach to assess the impact of the awareness campaign ‘Jal-Dhara’ and the adoption of water saving technologies 

Step 1: knowledge/awareness

Under this step, the level of awareness regarding the effect of climate change on availability of groundwater for household and agriculture use was studied. The level of awareness of farmers was analysed on five parameters, namely, reasons for climate change, effect of climate change on water resources, effect of increase in temperature, variation in rainfall on agriculture, and factors responsible for depletion of water. The level of awareness of farm women was analysed on four parameters, namely, reasons for climate change, effect of climate change on water resources, factors responsible for depletion of water, and wastage of water while performing household tasks. The extent of awareness was measured on a three-point continuum, i.e., fully aware, somewhat aware and not at all aware, with the scoring of 2, 1 and 0, respectively. Further, level of awareness was calculated and categorised as high, medium and low.

Step 2: desire

Based upon the results of the awareness survey, the second step focused on creating desire and interest among people to recognise and solve their problem. For this purpose, an awareness programme ‘Jal-Dhara’ was launched. Rallies and street plays on the theme ‘Water saving at agricultural and household level’ were conducted to generate awareness of the consequences of climate change for water resources, and water use behaviour, and to create an urge to solve the problem. Rallies were conducted by school students of the same village and the students of College of Home Science, Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, Punjab, India. Street plays were conducted at different places in selected villages during the rallies (Table 2).

Table 2

Participation in rallies and street plays conducted at each selected village

VenueParticipants (in numbers)
Talwandi Khurd, Ludhiana 200 
Sandhua, Ropar 200 
Ransingh Wala, Faridkot 200 
VenueParticipants (in numbers)
Talwandi Khurd, Ludhiana 200 
Sandhua, Ropar 200 
Ransingh Wala, Faridkot 200 

Step 3: skill

Rallies and street plays were followed by two days' training (see Table 3) for farmers and farm women on the topic ‘Water saving technologies at agriculture and household level’. Video shows were organised for them. For this purpose, under the project, a video was prepared on ‘Water saving technologies at farm and household level’. Lectures and demonstrations by subject matter specialists were conducted to provide knowledge on the technologies available for saving water in agriculture as well as at household level. Demonstrations were conducted to make people understand how to use the technologies.

Table 3

Participation of trainees in training conducted at each selected village

VenueParticipants (in numbers)
Talwandi Khurd, Ludhiana 50 
Sandhua, Ropar 50 
Ransingh Wala, Faridkot 50 
VenueParticipants (in numbers)
Talwandi Khurd, Ludhiana 50 
Sandhua, Ropar 50 
Ransingh Wala, Faridkot 50 

At the end of the training, all the trainees were provided with a water literacy kit, which consisted of a booklet and table calendar on water saving technologies (developed in the project), and a few small water saving devices.

Step 4: optimising

Under this step, a few of the water saving technologies were installed at community level so that people could use them and recognise their worth. Flexi pipes, tensiometers and water flow meters for judicious and measured use of water for irrigation were installed in selected fields to show the performance of these technologies. Cistern centre dual push buttons (toilet flush systems) were also installed in two community locations (gurdwara and school) of each selected village.

Step 5: facilitation

As the respondents were showing an interest in knowing more about the water saving technologies, small water saving devices like small nozzle water taps, lawn sprinklers for irrigating home lawns and kitchen gardens, water alarm bells to check overflow of tanks, multi-function water spray guns with pipe and multi-function water showers for judicious use of water in kitchen and bathroom were distributed to all the respondents at the end of the training.

Step 6: stimulation

Once all the beneficiaries were trained and facilitated with the technologies, the next step was to motivate them for the sustainable use of these technologies. Field trips to Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana, Punjab, India were organised to learn more about the water saving technologies as well as to practically observe how these technologies work.

Step 7: feedback and reinforcement

At the end of the awareness programme, a post-knowledge test was conducted, and also data were collected to assess the adoption of water saving technologies.

The data were analysed using a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet and statistical methods like frequency and percentages. For the purpose of training and distribution of technologies, 25 farmers and 25 farm women were selected randomly from each of the selected villages. Thus, in total, 150 respondents produced a sample for the intervention. To study change in knowledge level, pre- and post-knowledge tests were administered and analysed. Based upon the individual scores of each of the respondents for the pre- and post-knowledge tests, knowledge level was categorised as high, medium and low.

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

Level of awareness of farmers

The data presented in Table 4 revealed that the majority of the farmers (71.67%) had a high level of awareness regarding the effect of climate change on water resources, followed by 57.50% who had a high level of awareness regarding the effect of high rainfall on agriculture. The studies conducted by Mandleni & Anim (2011), Oduniyi (2013) and Vani & Kumar (2016) also reported that the majority of the farmers perceived that the increase in temperature and variation in rainfall were due to climate change. This may be due to the fact that the respondents were farmers and might have experienced changes in water resources and variation in rainfall affecting their farming to a great extent.

Table 4

Distribution of farmers according to level of awareness regarding climate change (n = 120)

ParametersLow (0–0.67) f (%)Medium (0.68–1.35) f (%)High (1.36–2.0) f (%)
Reasons for climate change 39 (32.50) 66 (55.00) 15 (12.50) 
Effect of climate change on water resources 9 (7.50) 25 (20.83) 86 (71.67) 
Effect of increase in temperature 43 (35.83) 44 (36.67) 33 (27.50) 
Effect of heavy rainfall 15 (12.50) 36 (30.00) 69 (57.50) 
Effect of little rainfall 53 (44.17) 49 (40.83) 18 (15.00) 
Factors responsible for depletion of water 64 (53.33) 52 (43.33) 4 (3.33) 
ParametersLow (0–0.67) f (%)Medium (0.68–1.35) f (%)High (1.36–2.0) f (%)
Reasons for climate change 39 (32.50) 66 (55.00) 15 (12.50) 
Effect of climate change on water resources 9 (7.50) 25 (20.83) 86 (71.67) 
Effect of increase in temperature 43 (35.83) 44 (36.67) 33 (27.50) 
Effect of heavy rainfall 15 (12.50) 36 (30.00) 69 (57.50) 
Effect of little rainfall 53 (44.17) 49 (40.83) 18 (15.00) 
Factors responsible for depletion of water 64 (53.33) 52 (43.33) 4 (3.33) 

n = total number of respondents, f = frequency, % = percentage.

Although the majority of the farmers were aware of the effects of climate change on water resources, awareness regarding reasons for change in climate, effect of increase in temperature, variation in rainfall on agriculture and factors responsible for depletion of water was low to medium level. More than half of the farmers (55.00%) had a medium level of awareness regarding reasons for climate change, whereas 53.33% of them had a low level of awareness regarding factors responsible for depletion of water. In other words, almost half of the respondents had a low level of awareness regarding the reasons for depletion of water. In fact, this lack of awareness is the major cause of practising water extensive practices like unjudicious use of water at farm and household levels, which exaggerates the problem. Thus, a need was felt to make people aware of these issues and to sensitise them towards climate change, its effects on water resources and possible solutions.

Level of awareness of farm women

The data presented in Figure 2 indicated that out of 120 farm women, the majority (60.00%) had a medium level of awareness regarding the reasons for climate change, followed by a medium level of awareness regarding the effect of climate change on water resources (45%). Most of the farm women (82.00%) had a low level of awareness regarding factors responsible for depletion of water. Surprisingly, a high awareness level of most of the farm women (97.00%) was noted with respect to wastage of water in performing household tasks, i.e., they were aware of wastage of water during washing clothes, bathing, etc., but were taking no action to manage the wastage of water for future generations. This indicates that farm women engaged in household tasks were aware of wastage of water, but as they were not facing the direct scarcity of water, they were not conscious of wasting water rather than conserving it.

Figure 2

Distribution of farm women according to level of awareness regarding climate change.

Figure 2

Distribution of farm women according to level of awareness regarding climate change.

The findings suggest that awareness of effects of climate change on water resources and factors responsible for water depletion should be created among farming families to make them water saving conscious. It also recommends the need to develop and promote simple water saving technologies to make people practise an easy way of saving water while performing various tasks.

Change in knowledge level

Before organising training, a pre-knowledge test of 75 farmer trainees and 75 farm women trainees was conducted and after the training, a post-knowledge test was conducted. Table 5 showcases the change in knowledge level of farmers after intervention. Before intervention, the majority of the selected farmers (64.0%) had a medium level of knowledge about water saving technologies in agriculture, followed by 24% respondents having a low level of knowledge.

Table 5

Distribution of farmers according to change in knowledge level (n = 75)

Knowledge level Category (score range)Pre-test
Post-test
f%f%
Low (1–16) 26 24.00 6.66 
Medium (17–33) 40 64.00 19 25.33 
High (34–50) 12.00 51 68.00 
Knowledge level Category (score range)Pre-test
Post-test
f%f%
Low (1–16) 26 24.00 6.66 
Medium (17–33) 40 64.00 19 25.33 
High (34–50) 12.00 51 68.00 

n = total number of respondents, f = frequency, % = percentage.

Post-knowledge test data revealed that the knowledge level of 68.00% of farmers increased to a high level after intervention. The knowledge of nearly a quarter of the respondents (25.33%) reportedly increased to medium level, followed by only 6.66% of respondents having a low level of knowledge. It may be inferred that the interventions were effective. Such interventions may be used widely to educate farmers. The results are very encouraging for scientists in the way that the farmers are ready or interested in learning new things. That is why a large percentage reached a high level of knowledge.

Before intervention, as shown in Table 6, the majority of the selected farm women (62.66%) had a medium level of knowledge regarding water saving technologies at household level, followed by a high level of knowledge of nearly a quarter of the respondents (21.33%). After intervention, the knowledge level of the majority of the respondents (61.33) was raised to a high level, followed by nearly one-third of the respondents (30.66%) at medium level. Very few farm women (8.00%) had a low level of knowledge during the post-knowledge test. It is concluded that intervention helped respondents to increase their knowledge. These results are in agreement with Mahale et al. (1991) and Sheokand (2003), who found that the training had a good impact on changing the knowledge level and skill. Other than training, the other facilitating factors to change the knowledge level could be the efforts made through various steps of social marketing, such as creating desire through rallies and street plays, community level demonstrations, facilitation through developed material (booklet and calendar), and small water saving devices and field trips. In the case of farm women, there is an increase in knowledge after intervention, but it is lower in percentage if compared with the increase in the knowledge of farmers. This shows that extensive efforts should be made to motivate farm women regarding new learning.

Table 6

Distribution of farm women according to change in knowledge level (n = 75)

Knowledge level Category (score range)Pre-test
Post-test
f%f%
Low (1–13) 12 16.00 8.00 
Medium (14–27) 47 62.66 23 30.66 
High (28–40) 16 21.33 46 61.33 
Knowledge level Category (score range)Pre-test
Post-test
f%f%
Low (1–13) 12 16.00 8.00 
Medium (14–27) 47 62.66 23 30.66 
High (28–40) 16 21.33 46 61.33 

n = total number of respondents, f = frequency, % = percentage.

Adoption of water saving technologies and practices

Adoption was studied after two months and revealed that all the respondents adopted distributed technologies on a trial basis, and impressed by their performance, a few of them purchased more technologies and shared the knowledge with relatives, friends and neighbours. Data presented in Table 7 discuss the adoption of various water saving technologies and practices on a trial basis. It revealed that all the respondents started using multipurpose tap showers for various household activities. Almost all the respondents (97.33%) installed water alarm bells to their water tanks to check overflow, followed by 94.66% of respondents who started irrigating their lawns and kitchen gardens with lawn sprinklers and 92% who replaced their taps with the small nozzle taps provided to them. Nearly one-third (33%) of the respondents started using tensiometers for monitoring the irrigation water required in paddy fields.

Table 7

Distribution of households according to adoption of various water saving technologies and practices on a trial basis (n = 150)

Technologyf%
Tap shower 150 100.00 
Lawn sprinkler 142 94.66 
Water alarm 146 97.33 
Small nozzle tap 138 92.00 
Tensiometers 50 33.33 
Practice   
Irrigation through flexi pipes 123 82.00 
Collecting wastewater of filters and using that in other activities 20 13.33 
Use of leftover water of vegetable washing in irrigating plants 15 10.00 
Technologyf%
Tap shower 150 100.00 
Lawn sprinkler 142 94.66 
Water alarm 146 97.33 
Small nozzle tap 138 92.00 
Tensiometers 50 33.33 
Practice   
Irrigation through flexi pipes 123 82.00 
Collecting wastewater of filters and using that in other activities 20 13.33 
Use of leftover water of vegetable washing in irrigating plants 15 10.00 

n = total number of respondents, f = frequency, % = percentage.

A large majority of the respondents (82%) started irrigating their fields with flexi pipes. A few of the respondents also started collecting wastewater of filters and using that in other activities (13.33%) and using leftover water from vegetable washing to irrigate plants (10.00%). The results are in line with the studies of Gupta & Singh (2012) and Kaur (2014), who reported an increase in knowledge (91.5%), change in attitude (84.5%) and development of skill (84%) of farm women after participating in the training programme.

It was shared by the respondents that they were satisfied with these technologies. All the respondents who visited PAU were overwhelmed with the experience they gained during the visit. These results lead to the conclusion that a social marketing approach for changing the behaviour of rural people in respect of water saving technologies proved very effective.

CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS

The social marketing approach has been very successful in bringing change in water use behaviour in terms of gain in knowledge and adoption of water saving technologies by rural people of Punjab. The awareness programme ‘Jal-Dhara’ created awareness and increased knowledge of farming families regarding water saving technologies at farm and household levels. All the respondents adopted the distributed technologies at farm and household levels on a trial basis. A few of the respondents purchased more water saving technologies as they were impressed with the distributed technologies. The importance of water saving technologies for water saving was popularised by the trainees among their relatives, friends and neighbours too.

It can be concluded that to bring about change in water use behaviour in people, we need to have a well planned and systematic approach like social marketing, which includes various steps. Social marketing aims to ensure improved behaviour by: (i) determining what the problem is through systematic data collection; (ii) identifying behaviour risk and external and internal determinants that impact the individuals' life conditions in an attempt to diagnose social problems; (iii) developing and implementing interventions by understanding the target audience; (iv) applying effective interventions to all the population, and assessing their impact and cost-effectiveness; and (v) monitoring the external and internal environments in order to analyse the current changes in the target audience. Social marketing represents a unique system for understanding who individuals are and what they desire, and then organising the creation, delivery and communication of products, services and messages to meet their desires, while meeting the needs of society and solving serious social problems (Evans et al. 2014).

In other words, social marketing aims to change behaviour through interventions. The findings further suggest popularising other water conservation technologies for both agriculture and households. Rain water harvesting structures may be demonstrated in selected villages to motivate villagers and be popularised using a social marketing approach for their adoption. This will improve the water table of the region. Overall, the study concludes that a seven-step social marketing approach is useful in changing the water use behaviour of people in a sustainable way. This approach can be used by extension workers, social workers and NGOs to bring about change in the behaviour of people in other social and behavioural issues like environment safeguarding, energy saving, health, drug abuse, farmers' suicide, etc.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The present study was part of the Department of Science and Technology, New Delhi, India sponsored project undertaken with the aim to create awareness among end users to accomplish behavioural changes in using water judiciously.

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