Community Participation and Sustainable Livelihoods: A Study on Watershed Management in Odisha

Devi, Suman (2015) Community Participation and Sustainable Livelihoods: A Study on Watershed Management in Odisha. PhD thesis.



Agriculture is an important source of livelihood for millions of population in rural areas of India. In this country, nearly 60 percent of the population depends on agriculture. According to the Population Census (2011), approximately 18.20 crore of the population are engaged in agriculture as cultivators and agricultural workers. In India, out of the total land, approximately 195 million hectares are used for cultivation from which around 63 percent is rain fed. Globally, India’s position is first in rainfed agriculture in terms of both extent and value of production and is responsible for 65 to 70 per cent of the staple food in the country. Rainfed agriculture provides about 55 percent of rice, 91 percent coarse grains, 90 per cent pulses, 85 per cent oilseeds and 65 percent cotton. The Government of India has taken up macro- and micro-irrigation projects to improve the agricultural productivity in rainfed agriculture areas. But the over-pumping of water for irrigational purposes and other uses has resulted in decreasing of the groundwater level. Even the green revolution that has improved agricultural productivity in India had little impact on rainfed agriculture. In rainfed regions, agricultural productivity is low, natural resources are degraded and the people increasingly are poor. In the wake of depleting water, soil and other natural resources, the idea of watershed project comes as a relief to rainfed agriculture. Agricultural scientists and planners aimed to promote rainfed agriculture through Watershed Development Programme (WSDP). Among many proposed solutions for the improvement of rainfed areas, development through watershed projects has emerged as the best strategy. Watershed is an area from which all water drains to a common point. It is an attractive unit for technical development to manage water and soil for production and conservation of natural resources.
To explore the potentiality of the rainfed agriculture, WSDP is implemented with the involvement of the local community. Up to now massive investments have been made in this regard but real evidences of success and failures of the community participation are still lacking. Under this background, the present study has been carried out in two micro-watersheds located in Balangir district of western Odisha. Broadly, the objectives of the study are to figure out the level of community participation, factors affecting the participation, conflict resolution and impact of watershed on livelihoods. The sociological and anthropological techniques are used to fulfil the objectives of the present study. The key findings of the study show that community participation varies at different levels of watershed implementation. The empirical results of the study show that in both the watersheds, most of the people who attended the watershed meetings or involved in the watershed activities are educated, rich and farmers doing the crops in Rabi season. The participation of illiterates, old persons, women groups and poor farmers are very rare. The participation of landless, marginal and women are quite less because of lack of awareness and non-closeness with the PIA. But, the scenario has changed in the planning and implementation phase. The marginal, landless, and women groups those who mostly work as labourers are encouraged to participate as their labour contribution was needed to form the watershed structures. In post-implementation phase of watershed project the transformation took place. Those who have the ability (in terms of labour, money and materials) to maintain the watershed physical structure, participated more, irrespective of their caste and land holding size. The post-implementation scenario in NGO implemented watershed shows that while around 50 percent beneficiaries participated in watershed management, it is not uniform in case of all the communities and land holding groups. The landless (30%) and marginal communities (35%) who really need water for their livelihoods take less interest to participate. The women participation is very minimal that is 20 percent. In case of GO implemented watershed it is 20 percent, 25 percent and 10 percent respectively for landless, marginal and women beneficiaries.
It is observed that in the NGO implemented watershed, the management of watershed assets and community participation are quite better in comparison to the GO implemented watershed. This is because of the creation of proper awareness; smooth functioning of the Watershed Committee (WC), Self-Help Groups (SHGs), Watershed Association (WA) and other grass root level institutions. The levels of participation in either of the NGO and GO implemented watershed areas are not satisfactory, because of some socio-cultural, economic, institutional and physical, technical factors. However, the NGO implemented watershed performed comparatively well. In this regard, several variables are identified for determining the reasons for non-participation. The factor and regression analysis reveals that economic factor plays a significant role in the community participation. The main reason attributed for this is that the economic activities are directly linked to the livelihood, poverty, employment, short term and long term benefit. The second highest factor that has influenced the participation is socio-cultural followed by the institutional and physical-technical factors. As mentioned earlier, the participation is highly infused in the social system, which can be a probable reason for the relevance of the social-cultural factor. The institutional factors have a very mild impact as well as physical and technical factors also have a minor impact on overall participation. It is observed that in both GO and NGO watersheds, Brahmins and upper caste people had power and social prestige that gave them an upper hand in the use of watershed resources. The traditional type of authority helped in maintaining harmony in the village before the introduction of the watershed and there were very less chances of conflict. After the implementation of the watershed, the role and functions of traditional authority has changed. The unequal distribution of watershed resource caused conflict between the watershed beneficiaries. However, the idea behind the watershed guideline is that ‘let the beneficiaries resolve their disputes by themselves’ which are yet to be realised. It is found in the study areas that the watershed project has improved all the capital assets, but it was not felt vividly by the farmers of all castes and communities.
As a result, along with the sustainability, the problem of inequality remained a problem. The marginal farmers did not get many benefits due to the inability to invest, lack of participation in watershed activities, lack of awareness, inadequate training, lack of knowledge of market fair price. The NGO implemented watershed has a moderate impact on the entire livelihood capital assets while the low quality of water harvesting structures constructed in GO implemented watershed, affected the sustainability of all the capitals assets. Though, the watershed project has a good impact on rural livelihood; the sustainability of this has become a pressing question.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Rainfed Agriculture, Watershed Project, Natural Resources, Community Participation, Livelihood, Conflict, Factors
Subjects:Humanities & Social Sciences > Agriculture Economics
Divisions: Social Sciences > Department of Humanities & Social Sciences
ID Code:6911
Deposited By:Mr. Sanat Kumar Behera
Deposited On:11 Jan 2016 12:42
Last Modified:11 Jan 2016 12:42
Supervisor(s):Mishra, N

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