|People's Participation in Managing Common Pool Natural Resources : Lessons of Success in India (IRMA, 1992, 26 p.)|
People's participation has become a rhetoric these days in India and other developing countries. Participation connotes different things to different people. In common parlance, it is used to mean an 'act or fact of partaking' or 'sharing in'. According to Banki (1981, p. 533), participation means "a dynamic group process in which all members of a (work) group contribute, share, or are influenced by the interchange of ideas and activities toward problem-solving or decision making". In this paper, we use the term to mean the act of partaking by the local people in all stages of common pool natural resource (CPNR) development and management programmes right from the designing of various resource development and conservation structures through monitoring and evaluation of their performance and impact. People's participation thus defined requires, among other things, that the target group of people voluntarily spend their time, energy, and money on the programme, adopt the recommended resource development measures and management practices and maintain them in good condition on a sustained basis.
By a common pool natural resource we mean any natural resource that is used in common by an identifiable group of people and whose use is subtractible, i.e., every user of the resource reduces the quantity of the resource available to other users in the group. In this paper, our focus is on the CPNR of land, water, and forests.
The watershed management approach facilitates successful and cost-effective development and management of CPNR. This is so because all the resources in a watershed irrespective of whether they are owned privately, publicly, or collectively by local people, are interdependent and therefore interact with one another. If something is done to any one of the resources, it is bound to have implications for all the other resources in the watershed. The watershed management approach requires that every field/parcel of land located in a watershed be treated with appropriate soil and water conservation measures and used according to its physical capability. For this to happen, it is necessary that every person having land in the watershed accepts and implements the recommended watershed development plan. There are some components of a watershed development plan such as bunding, levelling etc. which can be implemented by the farmers involved acting individually and many other items such as check dams, waterways etc. that can be implemented only through collective action of the farmers. This means that for successful implementation of a watershed development plan, people's parti-cipation is necessary for action on their individual farms as well as on common property land resources in the watershed. Of the five successful cases analysed in this paper, two relate to micro-watershed development and management, two to management of natural forests, and one to management of canal water.
Like most other agricultural and rural development programmes in India, CPNR development programmes also have suffered due to inadequate people's participation. Therefore, for successful implementation of such programmes it is necessary that the factors affecting people's participation are identified and measures for securing their needed participation adopted. This paper is a modest attempt at identifying major determinants of people's participation in the programmes of development and management of CPNR of land, water, and forests.