|A rapid review of the national watershed development project for rainfed areas in India (1997)|
The team of Prem N. Sharma and J.M. Stainburn was requested to conduct a rapid review of the NWDPRA from 3 through 12 April 1995. On 3 April the team was briefed by officials of the Department of Agriculture and Cooperation, New Delhi. The team spent the period 4 through 7 April in Uttar Pradesh (U.P.), accompanied by Mr. P.C. Sabharwal, Assistant Soil Conservation Officer, of DOAC, where a designated FARM watershed site (the Khutgath watershed) in Almora District and a provincial NWDPRA site (the Nihal watershed) at Mangoli village in Nainital District were visited. On 8 and 9 April the team was in Alwar District, Rajesthan, accompanied by Mr. V.K.B. Sawant, Assistant Soil Conservation Officer, of DOAC. There also it was possible to visit two watershed sites: the FARM designated Beganhari watershed at Raipur/Tijora village and the provincial NWDPRA Karkhari watershed at Neekaj village. In both States, therefore it was possible to review procedures in a FARM and a non-FARM site.
Detailed discussions were held with the provincial and district officials responsible for the sites. During the field visits many farmers were interviewed individually or in groups and their fields or activities were visited for an on the spot understanding of the impact of the project. Both arable and non-arable (including common property lands) were visited. Generally at the end of a field visit, a group discussion would be held with as many villagers as were present. Provincial government officials requested a briefing on the team's impressions before leaving the province. This was provided in the form of preliminary observations.
The two days 10 and 11 April were spent in analysing the experience and drawing some tentative conclusions. The meetings scheduled with the then Joint Secretary (RFA) and with the Secretary of Agriculture could not be held due to the declaration of a two-day period of mourning on 11 and 12 April following the demise of the Ex Prime Minister H.E. Morarji Desai. The FAO Representative and the UNDP Deputy Resident Representative were informed of the preliminary impressions of the team. Later the draft report was presented and discussed with the then Jt. Secretary (RFA) in May, 1995 whose comments were received in Aug., 1995. This final document has considered those comments and incorporated them in light of the observations made by the team in the field.
The NWDPRA is a national program which would require much more time for a complete, detailed review/appraisal than was available on this visit. Hence, rather than concentrating on specifics, the review team has tried to focus on the process and approach of the NWDPRA project and its guidelines in the field. Thus, the field visits were an aid to this approach.
In only four days of discussions it was impossible to obtain a detailed knowledge of the working of the NWDPRA in the watershed sites. The team therefore tried to direct its attention to reprocess and approach of the project rather than to specific items. Hence, it is suggested that the observations and recommendations made in the following sections of this report are treated as indicative rather than definitive. However, since the team has tried to relate the observations to national level, the recommendations made at the end of this report are for strengthening the NWDPRA project through a more detailed review or through working groups. Similarly, the suggestions made should be regarded as alternative examples rather than being definitive solutions for an observed need. Such definitive solutions will require further analysis and testing keeping in mind the location specific nature, socio-cultural aspects, and traditions of a particular area. This detailed analysis can be undertaken later by national teams using the ideas in this report as leads for further exploration.