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close this bookPeople's Participation In Natural Resources Management - Workshop Report 8 (IRMA, 1992, 45 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentAbstract
View the documentAbbreviations and acronyms
View the document1. Introduction
View the document2. Concepts and connotations of people’s participation
View the document3. Rationale of people’s participation
View the document4. Measures of participation
Open this folder and view contents5. Theories of people’s participation
Open this folder and view contents6. Factors affecting people’s participation
Open this folder and view contents7. Towards a participatory management strategy
View the document8. Agenda for future research
View the documentNotes
View the documentAcknowledgements
View the documentReferences
Open this folder and view contentsAnnexure 1
View the documentIRMA faculty

1. Introduction

The natural resources of land, water, forests, fisheries, etc. constitute the basic support systems for life on earth, directly support the livelihood of hundreds of millions of people, particularly the rural poor, and contribute to agricultural and economic growth. India has nearly 329 million ha of land of which nearly 66 million ha is classified as forest land (NIRD, 1990, p.34).

Of the total forest land, 36.54 m ha is classified as reserved (closed) forests and 27.66 m ha as open forests (WRI, 1990, Table 19.1, p.293). The surfacewater resources (in terms of average annual flow) of India are estimated at 178 million ha metres (CMIE, 1990) and replenishable groundwater resources at 45.23 million ha metres per annum (NIRD, 1990, p.44). As regards marine fish resources, India has a marine coastline of nearly 12,700 km and her fishing rights extend over 4.52 lakh sq kms of maritime area (shelf to 200 m deep) and 20.15 lakh sq kms of Exclusive Economic Zone (WRI, 1990, p.337). The inland fish resources consist of 2.90 million ha of inland reservoirs and lakes and 1.60 million ha of fresh water ponds and tanks most of which could be used for fish culture (Srivastava, et al., 1985, p.1). Most of India’s natural resources could be considered as common pool resources (CPRs) in the sense that they are used in common by local people and that their use is subtractible (Singh, 1991). Most of the CPRs in India as also in other developing countries of the world are highly degraded and their productivity is much below the potential that has been demonstrated under good management. Most of the CPRs suffer from what Garrett Hardin (1968) calls “the tragedy of the commons”.

There is therefore an urgent need for their restoration so that they can contribute fully to economic growth and development and help alleviate the problems of poverty, unemployment and ecological degradation.

As biological systems, the natural CPRs are dynamic and subject to management interventions that can provide sustainable benefit flows in the form of food, fodder, fuelwood, fibre, timber, manure, etc., clean water, air filtration and humidification, and eco-tourism. Management of CPRs on a sustained yield basis depends upon a careful orchestration of policies and management practices. Lack of equitable access to CPRs and hence inequitable distribution of their benefits often lead to clandestine encroachment, or misappropriation of these resources forcing an opportunistic and highly exploitative mode of resource use. There is, therefore, a need for exploring viable CPR management strategies for their restoration and utilisation within a development context. For the success of any strategy of natural resources management (NRM), involvement of local people is essential. This is so because use of natural resources by any user has many unintended side-effects, or externalities on other co-users. For example, pumping of groundwater in a watershed affects the aquifer that is a CPR to which all those who live in the watershed have a legitimate claim. If one of the co-users pumps more water, to that extent, less is left for use by the others in the watershed. Optimum use of groundwater in a watershed therefore requires the co-operation or participation of all the people living and using groundwater in the watershed. Similarly, soil and water conservation in a watershed requires the participation of all the land owners having land in the watershed in the form of adoption of the recommended soil and water conservation measures. In a nutshell, all uses of all natural resources irrespective of whether they are owned privately or publicly are interdependent and therefore require the co-operation of all the resource users for internalising/minimizing the externalities involved. This is best achieved when planning and management of natural resources is done on watershed basis.

Despite the professed faith of most of the developing countries in people’s participation in the development process, it has, by and large, remained a pipe-dream. In most countries, the poor and the disadvantaged have been mostly bypassed by the conventional development process (Bamberger and Shams, 1989, p.3). Programmes of development and management of natural resources have also suffered due to inadequate participation of local people. It is therefore necessary for ensuring the success of NRM programmes that the factors affecting people’s participation are identified and necessary measures for securing their full participation are built into such programmes. What is meant by people’s participation, how is it measured, why is it needed, what are the theories of people’s participation, what are the factors affecting it, and what are the roles of governmental and non-governmental organisations in enlisting people’s participation are some of the questions that need to be answered before we can design and mount a pragmatic people-centred programme of NRM. A Training Workshop on People’s Participation in Natural Resources Management, hereinafter referred to as Workshop, was designed to find answers to these and other similar questions. The Workshop was organised by IRMA with financial support from a grant made by the Ford Foundation, New Delhi for research in the area of natural resources management. Some 45 persons including resource managers, policy makers, and academics were invited to participate in the Workshop and contribute papers. Of the invitees, 32 persons including eight faculty members of IRMA participated in the Workshop. A list of the participants is given in Annexure 1. Of the total number of participants, 14 came from NGOs, 12 from academic institutions, five from government organisations, and one from a donor agency.

The main objectives of the Workshop were as follows:

a. To exchange, review, and analyse various experiences in involving people in the programmes of development and management of natural resources of land, water, forests and fisheries; and

b. To distil lessons of the experiences reviewed and analysed in the Workshop in terms of major factors that promote people’s participation and factors that hinder people’s participation in NRM.

Most of the papers contributed to the Workshop were case studies describing, inter alia, how and to what extent local people were involved in the programmes of NRM and the major obstacles to people’s participation encountered. The Workshop deliberations were expected to generate a framework for synthesis of the case studies which, in turn, could provide guidelines to governmental and non-governmental agencies for enlisting local people’s participation in their programmes of NRM. The papers presented at the Workshop are listed in the Programme Schedule (Annexure 2). This report presents an analytical summary of the Workshop proceedings, important conclusions of the papers presented at the Workshop, and relevant lessons gleaned from the literature on the subject available to us.