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close this bookPeople's Participation in Managing Common Pool Natural Resources : Lessons of Success in India (IRMA, 1992, 26 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentAbstract
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentA theoretical framework
View the documentMethodology
View the documentIndia's experience
View the documentThe Parwara van (forest) panchayat experience
View the documentThe Arabari experiment in joint forest management
View the documentThe Ralegan Siddhi project experience
View the documentThe Sukhomajri project experience
View the documentThe Mohini water co-operative experience
View the documentLessons and directions for future
View the documentAcknowledgement
View the documentReferences

Lessons and directions for future

The key determinants of people's participation in managing CPNR in the five cases presented and analysed in this paper are summarised in Table 2. We can draw the following lessons from the experiences reviewed and analysed in this paper:

1. The most important pre-requisite for people's participation is that the expected benefits from participation must substantially exceed the expected costs of participation. Programme interventions or measures that seek to enhance the benefits to people or reduce the costs are likely to elicit greater people's participation than those that do not seek to do so. This condition was fulfilled in all the five cases analysed in this paper.

2. People would participate in programmes of development and management of CPNR only if they are conscientized, organised and empowered to do so. A great deal of effort and resources are required for empowering local people and to build people-centred local institutions and organisations and link them to higher level institutions engaged or interested in similar work. Formal organisations of local people existed in all the five cases analysed in this paper.

3. NGOs are better oriented to enlist people's participation. They also have necessary skills and patience to work with them. They could play a crucial and unique role in organising, educating, conscientizing, and motivating local villagers, in mediating between them and the government officials concerned, and in serving as public interest "watch dogs". They are better than government agencies to train people and thereby to empower them so that they can identify their problems and resolve them on their own eventually. The NGOs played such a role very effectively in two of the five cases, namely, the Ralegan Siddhi project, and the Sukhomajri project, where people's participation was higher than in the other cases. It is high time that the governmental organisations engaged in CPNR development programmes learnt from the experience of the NGOs and incorporated the lessons into their strategies. Otherwise, huge amounts of scarce resources would continue to be wasted on ill-conceived, ill-designed and badly executed resource development programmes as before.

4. Local leadership plays an important role in enlisting people's participation in CPNR development programmes by mobilising people's resources, energy, and by assuring the people that they would have access to the benefits from their participation in collective action for CPNR development and that the distribution of the benefits would be fair and equitable. In four of the five projects analysed in this paper, namely, Parwara, Arabari, Ralegan Siddhi, and Mohini, the quality of local leadership was good initially, if not throughout the currency of the project.

5. The role of the government should be confined to providing financial and technical assistance, basic infrastructure, and enabling legal and political environment conducive to people's participation in CPNR development programmes. A lot of investment is required initially for restoration and development of degraded CPNRs. Such investments in CPNR development should be made by the government on the same principles as in the case of irrigation projects. This is what was done by the government more or less in all the five projects analysed in this paper.

6. Formal systems for sharing the benefits from collective action among the local people involved should be evolved and enforced by the people themselves and backed up by legal provisions or appropriate administrative decrees. Such systems existed in all the five projects but were implemented more strictly and effectively in Ralegan Siddhi and the Sukhomajri projects than in the other projects.

The above mentioned determinants of people's participation revealed by the case studies serve not only to generalise but also expand the theory of collective action as spelt out earlier in this paper. The theory is generalised in the sense that there are five more instances where it holds, and expanded in the sense that, besides explaining collective action, it also explains individual action in the context of development and management of CPNR.