|Case Studies of People's Participation in Watershed Management in Asia (PWMTA, 1996)|
|A case study of people's participation in Begnastal and Rupatal (BTRT) watershed management in Nepal|
The Begnas Tal (lake) and Rupa Tal (BTRT) watershed area is located at about 10 km east of Pokhara in Western Nepal which is about 200 km west of Kathmandu. The watershed covers an area of 173 km2 of two main lakes Begnas and Rupa and three other minor lakes. There are seven Village Development Committees (VDC) in the BTRT. About 31,000 people inhabit in the BTRT area.
For the last ten years, the BTRT Project has been concentrating its efforts on watershed management using participatory approaches. Hence, it is thought to be the best area for studying participatory approaches in watershed management in Nepal. In the BTRT Project area, participatory approach is mandatory for all activities at all stages, today. Local people are actively involved in planning, implementing, follow-up, and maintaining community watershed resources. The role of watershed management technicians is relegated to that of technical facilitators.
Communities are organized in order to ensure peoples' participation. Community Development Conservation Committees (CDCC), instead of users' groups, are the organizational unit. A CDCC serves a community as a natural socio-ecological unit. It is not defined by a VDC or a VDC hamlet (called ward in Nepal) boundary. Each household in the community is represented in the CDCC. At the project's initiation, a CDCC analyzes its problems using a participatory community approach and then presents its conservation needs to the project office. As of the end of 1994 there were 100 CDCCs in operation in the BTRT area.
The BTRT Project's push for agricultural diversification has minimized the risk of crop failure and enabled farmers to earn income throughout the year. Nowadays, an average farmer grows about six kinds of fruits, five types of fodder and local grasses, as well as cultivates cereal crops.
The project has handed over the responsibility for managing natural forests near villages to the local users. This is resulting into denser forests. Women's CDCCs are especially keen on managing forests. The use of traditional farm management technology is common and farmers manage their land very well. Terrace slopes are within the prescribed limits and in general in good condition.
The Project identified the need for quality agricultural inputs and support services needed for utilizing marginal lands. Many groups of farmers are involved in the marginal land improvement agro-forestry program initiated with the help of the project. Farmers are not only ready to pay for fruit saplings, but they also convince their neighbours to participate in the program so that there will be a larger group fund.
Local women are very active in forest management and conservation farming activities and are fully involved in the decision making process. The major factors facilitating women's participation in CDCC proceedings were: a clear prospect of benefit sharing, support from their families and the small size of the group area served.
Many conservation farmers have adopted improved agricultural practices and share these experiences with their neighbours. They have setup demonstrations on their farms and have converted many followers, who are monitored by the conservation farmers themselves. In this way improved farming practices were spread throughout the area. Homestead agro-forestry plots were established and kitchen gardens introduced to great economic benefit. The sale of coffee, pineapples, oranges, cardamom, broom grass, and other varieties of fruits and vegetables is generating cash income for the farmers.
A Community Development Board, which operates at the village level, was formed to foster communication between the CDCCs and the VDCs. All ward members of a VDC and the chairmen of the CDCCs in a VDC are the members of the board. Technical staff in the VDC serve as advisors and facilitators of farmers' groups/organization.
In sum, an overall impression about the factors that contributed to the success of people's participation (PP) in the BTRT watershed management are outlined as follows:
- Clear and transparent decision making procedures by project management.
- Clear and simple guidelines, and flexible operational procedures to facilitate PP in watershed management.
- Well defined programs, budgets, plans, implementation procedures and benefit sharing mechanisms.
- Integration of a wide range of diversified watershed management activities and guarantee of benefits.
- Strong motivation among project staff.