How Pro-Poor are Participatory Watershed Management Projects

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"In recent years Irrigation Management Transfer (IMT) and Joint Forest Management (JFM) projects have been promoted with a view to improve service provision in the agricultural sector. Improved service provision it is presumed would enhance access of resource poor households to watershed services such as irrigation and Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFPs). This report draws on a survey and case study evidence from 28 watershed management groups in Haryana to argue that participatory watershed management projects need not necessarily safeguard the interests of poorer rural households. We demonstrate that given a particular institutional contract as in Haryana, irrigation service provision by contractors proved to be more effective than provision by a community organization (HRMS) in ensuring that water allocation, collection of Irrigation Service Fees (ISF) and routine maintenance of irrigation infrastructure was undertaken. Our analysis of benefit distribution reveals that wealthier landholding households benefited more from management of irrigation and forest resources when compared to relatively poorer households. In conclusion this report points out that although no blueprints for promoting pro-poor community participation in watershed management may be readily available, certain principles are identifiable that may include: ensuring transparency of policy processes and predictability of institutional contract to promote private sector participation in irrigation service provision, ensuring fairness in benefit distribution to facilitate compliance with irrigation service rules and minimize potential for conflicts and promoting inter-sectoral policy coordination by targeting subsidies for private tubewells and addressing anomalies in the nonfarm labor market with a view to dovetailing watershed management projects within wider regional programs of poverty alleviation."



irrigation, water resources, livelihoods, poverty alleviation, households, participatory management, Workshop