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Does Devolution Lead to Sustainability? Evidence from Participatory Watershed Management in Southern India

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Kumar, Suresh
Conference: Sustaining Commons: Sustaining Our Future, the Thirteenth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of the Commons
Location: Hyderabad, India
Conf. Date: January 10-14
Date: 2011
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/7257
Sector: Water Resource & Irrigation
Region: Middle East & South Asia
Subject(s): watersheds
water management
collective action
transaction costs
user groups
Abstract: "Policies of devolution have been widely adopted in both the developing and developed countries. These policies aim at creating sustainable livelihood opportunities for its members by better managing the resource and ensure sustainable collective action. Devolutionary process has taken place in watershed management in India. This paper aimed to address how the devolutionary policies ensure collective action in watershed management. The present paper studies 12 micro-watersheds in South India to understand how villagers cooperate to manage watershed related tasks. The paper examines the factors that affect collective participation in watershed management and how cooperation changes once the State withdraws and hands control over management to panchayat raj institutions and other groups. The study finds mixed evidence of collective efforts to manage watersheds. There is certainly cooperation among watershed beneficiaries during project implementation. The study finds that watershed institutions in most cases become inactive once the project period is over. An analysis of factors that influence collective action indicates that cooperation emerges in areas where there is greater resource dependence and where there are homogeneous social groups involved. There is also a role for better information dissemination during the implementation phase. Many stakeholders were unaware of how their responsibilities change in the post-project period. Increasing awareness and providing clear information about rights and responsibilities will likely make for more empowered and involved stakeholders."

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