|Case Studies of People's Participation in Watershed Management in Asia (PWMTA, 1996)|
|A case study of successful watershed management in Wuhua County, Guangdong Province, China|
Wuhua county is located at the mid-eastern part of Guangdong Province, China. The county has serious erosion and watershed degradation problem. Population density is 280/km2, and the average arable land per capita is only 0.1 ha. Soil and water erosion in the county is responsible for weak geo-morphology, poor soils and vegetation, hydrological problems, irrational land-use and many socio-economic problems.
Although the soil and water conservation work in the province began in 1949, this sector received high priority only since 1982. Accordingly, the provincial Government passed many related resolutions to effectively execute soil and water conservation program in Wuhua county.
Comprehensive management system of small watersheds (5-40 km) has been very popular in Wuhua county. At present, the county has 62 small watersheds under the comprehensive management system. Planning and selection of these watersheds were carried out by a multi-disciplinary team of technicians, NGOs, village leaders and farmers. Under this system, local county Government and farmers provide financial support, where as Provincial Government provides necessary materials, tools and equipments to implement the program at a small watershed level. People's participation in land management is through various contractual arrangement such as Family Contract System, Collective or Group Contract System, Sub-lease Contract System, Professional Contract System and Specialized Contract System. Because of these systems of people's participation, soil and water conservation works in China have been carried-out successfully. These systems have significantly improved the rural economy and standard of living of farmers of Wuhua county. This is achieved by soil and water conservation techniques which give quick economic benefits.
The concept of small watershed based development is practised successfully in Wupi river watershed of Wuhua county. The overall plan for the management of a small watershed emphasizes on comprehensive erosion control measures including measures for hill slope and gully stabilization. regulating river system and rearranging farm lands. Principles of soil erosion control have been further developed by combining soil erosion control measures with the optimum utilization of biological measures. Under these principles, short-term, medium-term and long-term objectives have been formulated. Short-term objective is to upgrade agricultural production, medium-term objective is to increase fruit production and long-term objective is to develop forestry and eventually to combine ecological and economic benefits. The focus on economic benefits is based on the fact that the people would participate activity in soil erosion control works only if it results into quick economic benefits to them.