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close this bookCase Studies of People's Participation in Watershed Management in Asia (PWMTA, 1996)
close this folderA case study of people's participation in Begnastal and Rupatal (BTRT) watershed management in Nepal
close this folderResult and discussions
Open this folder and view contentsEvolution of participation
Open this folder and view contentsActivities of the Begnastal Rupatal watershed management project
Open this folder and view contentsConsequences of the BTRT project
Open this folder and view contentsInfluences of the BTRT project on people's participation
Open this folder and view contentsResult of people's participation in the BTRT area


The approach to people's participation in watershed management in Nepal, has been evolving since 1974. Its evolution can be divided into four stages. In each stage people's participation has been described in terms of a five-part project cycle: watershed resources assessment; project activity planning; implementation, maintenance, followed-up on and benefit sharing; and extension efforts.

First stage (1974-80)

Maps and aerial photos were used to assess land and forest resources. Applications for terrace improvement were collected from individual farmers and these works implemented within project quotas. The project subsidized eighty percent of the cost of terrace improvement, which made it popular. Other activities were planned for public lands. All activities were implemented by hiring contractors or local laborers and the projects themselves repaired and maintained the activities implemented by them. Messages to conserve natural resources were displayed in public places.

Second stage (1981-85)

The spirit of decentralization was practised by inviting village leaders to assess their needs and to plan activities. Some key villagers were also involved in implementation. All these projects tried to convince people that conservation activities will yield benefits in the future.

Terrace improvement subsidies were reduced to 70 % so that more farmers could participate in this program. Users' developed benefit-sharing mechanisms, conservation education and extension programs reached more people. Following the ratification of the Soil Conservation and Watershed Management (SCWM) Act, catchment conservation committees were established in a few districts in order to coordinate the watershed management activities within each district.

Third stage (1986-90)

Bio-physical characteristics were used for resources assessment. In line with the decentralization policy, VDCs and DDCs were made to involve in planning the activities.

The effectiveness of SCWM activities in small watersheds was noted. Subsidies for terrace improvement were further reduced to 50%. The User-developed works were repaired and maintained by the users themselves with the support of the projects.

The decentralization Act 1982 authorized formation of users' groups for all rural development activities. They used this act to obtain land use titles of community lands. With this, natural as well as planted forests were handed over to the communities to convert the Government managed forests into user-managed community forests.

Fourth stage (1991-94)

RRA/PRA surveys as well as bio-physical characteristics were used to assess farmers needs. Sub-watershed planning was institutionalized and on-farm conservation packages were developed. Up to 60% of the total resources were channelled to priority sub-watersheds and most activities were implemented through users. In fact, users took lead roles in repairing and maintaining activities and in benefit sharing.

Conservation related extension was focused on increasing community awareness. Guidelines for people's participation were produced and establishment of users' groups to run SCWM activities was made mandatory. The policy for subsidizing activities was institutionalized.

A summary of evolution of the people's participation approach in soil conservation and watershed management in terms of the project cycle is presented in Table 1.


The BTRT project, which was initiated in 1985, completed its first phase in 1989 and its second phase in 1994. Currently the project is running on a three-year, no-cost extension basis. Community participation and subsidies are vital to the Project. The following pages discuss the project's efforts in both phases to help community organizations manage their community and private lands.

First phase (1985-89)

(i) On public lands

Resource assessment

Land use, laud system and topographical maps, and aerial photographs were used to assess the bio-physical condition of the area. Project staff visited villages to observe and to conduct village meetings. A questionnaire for soliciting the demands of village panchayats was developed.

Activity planning

First, the Panchyat Conservation Committee (PCC) prepared a list of all the SCWM activities needed and ranked the top three in order of priority and forwarded the list to the project office. Secondly, the project's mid-level technicians, together with the concerned users and the PCC members, carried out a feasibility survey and prepared a list of technically and economically feasible activities. Then the PCC, with the assistance of the project, finalized the activities and forwarded them to the District Panchayat for concurrence. Finally, the project sent the plan to the Department of Soil Conservation and Watershed Management, Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation, HMG/N, for final approval.


The Decentralization Act has provided the legal basis for implementing project activities at the ward level. First, a users' group committee (UGC) was formed within each ward and presided over by the ward chairman. Secondly, project technicians and UGC members made detailed cost estimates and suggested how costs would be shared. Thirdly, the project and the UGC agreed upon implementation plan. Finally, the users implemented the activities. The project transported locally unavailable materials up to the road head, and users transported them to the sites. After the work was completed, the project paid its share to UGC as agreed in implementation plan (normally the cost of skilled labor). The local users contributed unskilled labor.

Maintenance, follow-up, and benefit sharing

Depending on the activities, different plans for maintenance and follow-up were developed. Conservation plantations were maintained by project-hired guards (heralu). Users themselves repaired and maintained water supply systems and dug wells (Kuwa). The project assisted the users in repairing conservation measures designed to control landslides and gullies. Users developed a benefit-sharing mechanism for collecting grass, branches, leaves and twigs from plantation areas by collecting a nominal charge for using them. The collected levy was used for social welfare works such as improving village resting places (chautara) along trails, foot trails, and schools.

Table 1: Summary of evolution of people's participation approach in four stages



Resource Assessment

Activity Planning


Maintenance, Follow-up and Benefit Sharing

Extension Efforts


· Land use, land system
· Aerial photos, topo map
· Human and animal populations
· Applications for terrace improvement submitted

· On public lands (resource assessment)
· Plans for erosion prone areas
· Applications for terrace improvement selected

· Contractors
· Local labourers
· 80% subsidy for terrace improvement

· Maintenance by projects
· Local people share benefits but mechanism unclear

· Soil and water conservation slogans in public places
· Conservation films
· Technical package for terrace improvement


· Maps and photos
· Secondary data (pressure on land and forests)
· Decentralization (village leaders)
· Information on land ownership
· Terrace improvement

· On public land (resource assessment)
· Plans made for land having less complecated land ownership
· Terrace improvement within quotas

· Contractors
· Local labourers
· Subsidy terrace improvement reduced to 70%
· Key villagers

· Maintenance by projects
· Users' committee developed mechanism for sharing benefits

· Conservation messages
· Coordination mechanism
· Posters, calendars, pamphlets etc.
· Extension services initiated


· Bo-physical data
· Same as second stage

· Decentralized planning: VDCs select DDCs finalize plan
· Small watersheds

· Contractors
· Local labourers
· Users
· 50% subsidy for terrace improvement

· Maintenance by projects
· Maintenance by users
· Benefit sharing mechanism defineded

· UGs authorized and institutionalized
· Forests banded-over and managed by UGs


· Bio-physical data
· RRA/PRA to collect socio-economic data
· Linked with willingness to participate
· On-farm conservation package

· VDC, DDC plan activities and select sites
· Sub-watershed planning institutionalized
· 60% of resources to priority sub-watersheds

· Users
· Contractors and local labourers
· Subsidy policy institutionalized

· Users had lead role in maintenance, follow-up and benefit sharing
· Project assisted

· Focus on community awareness, income generation, skill development
· People involved in planning, implementation, monitoring & evaluation
· UGs made mandatory
· Extension service institutionalized

Speciality of BTRT WM approach

Unique efforts in planning, implementing and follow-up on of SCWM activities in the BTRT area included:

- While other SCWM projects implemented terrace improvement as an isolated activity, the BTRT tried to change human behaviour. The BTRT used the private farm as its unit for planning watershed management activities and used an integrated approach.

- Training in masonry, gabion box weaving, and plumbing was provided in order to create local skilled labor. Personal contact and training proved to be the most effective tools for community organization.

- Demonstration on private farms, rather than public land, were developed.

- The BTRT initiated a network of motivators to serve as contacts among the project, the community, and the individual farmers.

(ii) On private lands

To develop and carry out conservation practices on farm land, the project focused on individual farmers. It emphasized on integrating soil and water conservation activities for increased agricultural productivity.

In the first phase, the project operated in four VDCs. In each VDC, a field station was established and a total of four mid-level technicians (two agricultural and two forest rangers), were assigned to the stations. Professionals in the project office frequently visited the field. To strengthen the field stations and to encourage women's participation, four local women were hired as motivators. They were given appropriate training and assigned to site offices.

Each village Panchayat was asked to list 25 innovative men and women farmers and project staff verified their choices. The 100 innovative farmers were trained as local extension agents, in improved agricultural practices. The training lasted three days and were held in the Agricultural Training Centres in Kairenitar, Pokhara, and Lumle. The idea behind the training was that the farmers adopt improved agricultural practices and subsequently pass on these practices to their neighbours.

Project staff monitored the innovative farmers to see if they changed their farming practices. Since many of them did not introduce any new practices, only twelve, three in each VDC, were selected to be conservation farmers (CF). Among them, three were women. According to their interest, the CFs received specific training in areas such as beekeeping, animal health, citrus farming, seed management, and poultry farming. In addition, demonstration sites were set up on the farms of CFs in such a way that neighbouring farmers and passers by could easily see the activities.

Loans were given to the CFs for acquiring locally unavailable agricultural inputs such as seeds and seedlings for demonstration on their farms. Each CF was then asked to find ten follower farmers to whom he/she would distribute the inputs at one's own cost, thereby paid the loan back in kind. Under the supervision of the CFs, each follower farmer in turn gave the inputs to other farmers. Thus, improved farming practices rapidly multiplied in the area.

The project made the villagers aware of conservation problems using motivators, field-based staff, field visits, informal interaction and meetings. The project also helped the villagers identify the SCWM needs through which the project could help them. In addition, the villagers were informed about the criteria for selecting activities and the project's subsidy policy. Finally, project staff helped villagers prioritize their needs and to make formal requests to the project for assistance through PCCs and VDCs, respectively.

The project, then provided tentative annual targets and budgets to the PCC of each village according to their need and equity. In turn, each PCC sent a list of activities and their priorities to the project. Then, the project formed a multi-disciplinary team to visit the field for observing the needs identified by the PCC. During the field visit technical feasibility was added as a criterion for selection and additional information was collected for the final selection.

Second phase (1990-94)

SCWM activities are broadly grouped as engineering, forestry and agriculture activities. People within the watershed are also considered as human resources. Communities are organized to encourage people's participation in SCWM activities.

The movement for democracy in the beginning of 1990 resulted in the restoration of the multiparty system. Village and district level political bodies (Panchyats) were dismantled and the Decentralization Act became ineffective. During this period the BTRT Project worked out a model of community organization suitable for analysing problems and planning, implementing, maintaining and following-up on project activities.

Problem analyses

Since a village community shares common natural resources and since community participation is effective in managing these resources, and for solving common soil erosion problems; the concept of community development was fostered in each village. Project staff formed a Community Development Committee, which later was named as Community Development Conservation Committee (CDCC), in every village.

The project, with the help of CDCC members, surveyed and analyzed the problems of the community. In particular, a multi-disciplinary team utilized Rapid Rural Appraisal/Participatory Rural Appraisal (RRA/PRA) for problem analysis. A list of activities was prepared and a plan for cost sharing was suggested. Community commitment was also assessed during discussions.

Activity planning

The project prioritized the activities in accordance with the resources available to it and depending on the seriousness of the problems. The concerned CDCC was informed of the activities and their implementation schedule. The project also requested the CDCC to form UGs to implement the selected activities. Once the CDCC formed a UG and forwarded a list of its members to the project office through the VDCs, the UG with the help of project technicians prepared detailed cost estimates and terms of implementation. The Chairmen and Secretaries of the UGs signed agreements with me project.

All the villagers within a community are members of the CDCC and the UG is the executive body of the CDCC. Depending upon the size of the village, a UG has 7-11 members. Significant difference between the UGs of the first phase and the second phase is that the leaders in the first phase UGs were local politicians and not the users.


The project provided material support and the cost of skilled labor. On the other hand, the community was responsible for mobilizing resources such as sand, stone, and unskilled labor. Forestry activities were implemented by users themselves, although the project provided seedlings. For some agricultural activities on private lands users had to buy seedlings, although the project subsidized transportation and provided training. In the second phase, the project gradually reduced its subsidy.

The project regularly monitored and supervised construction to ensure quality in implementation. It was experienced that the sincere and active participants were happy to receive whatever money they got and to share it equally among themselves (Subba 1991). Once the project staff discussed as to why the participation of local people could not be limited to physical labor only, the people began to maintain completed works by utilizing a community fund generated by the CDCC.

Involvement of women, occupational castes and other minority groups

In order to ensure participation of all sections of the community and that they benefit from the project, the project aimed to increase the involvement of women, occupational castes, and minorities groups in sustainable management of human and natural resources of the area.

Since the main drive behind forming committees, was the villagers' need of forest products and since collecting fodder and fuelwood is largely women's tasks, local women were very active in forest management and therefore they were fully involved in the decision making process. The major factors facilitating women's participation in the committees were: clear prospect of benefit sharing, support from family leaders, and the small size of the community. Because women were encouraged to be active members, their participation in CDCCs was excellent, and in fact they formed 27 exclusive women's groups with a total of 750 members.

The project also aimed to increase the involvement of occupational castes such as blacksmiths, tailors, shoe makers, and other minority groups of the community.

The involvement of these occupational caste in the project activities was also encouraging. There are now eight exclusive CDCCs of occupational castes and one CDCC is exclusively Islamic.

The high incidence of women's participation in SCWM activities was a result of the following facts:

- village women trust the seven project-hired female motivators (one in each VDC), who in turn were dedicated to their work.

- project extension officer was a women and most villagers support her strongly.

- male population was away to India for casual work and women had to assume leadership roles.

- men were not against leadership of women.

- project extension services highly motivated local women.

- project activities such as drinking water and irrigation systems, and forest management were popular among women users.

- training provided by the project helped village women.

During 1990-94, about 300 women were trained in different fields such as forest management (66 women), citrus management, improved cooking stoves, beekeeping, and CDCC management (150 women). In addition, 200 women attended literacy classes.

Management of forests

The dependency of the people on forests for fodder, fuelwood and timber is well established. It has several socio-economic and cultural implications. Indigenous forest management practices generally ensure the protection of forests by controlling and/or restricting access to a forest and its products.

Indeed, in areas where the community organization is strong (homogenous communities), various traditional systems for controlling the extraction of forest products are in use. For example, some wards pay for forest guards. However, in the areas where more than one ward share a forest and strong united leadership is lacking, the community managed forests are not well protected.

Since people's participation is vital for the protection of the forest resources, various users' groups and conservation committees were formed for managing planted and natural forests. These groups are solely responsible for implementing forest management, conservation and utilization activities.

The BTRT Project initially did not focus on management of the natural forests, although it encouraged afforestation of common grazing lands and degraded lands. However, since the local people were reluctant to convert grazing land into forests because of the scarcity of land for grazing, the project reoriented its strategy to focus on the management of existing natural forests by handing over their management responsibility to me community or to users' groups.

Once the local people recognized that new plantations would not fulfil the demand for forest products until they reach maturity, they started managing existing natural forests as well.

Women CDCCs are very keen on managing the forests and have created a fund for protecting the forests. Each family contribute five rupees per month to the fund. In some cases, project-supported watchmen have been terminated and the money allocated for watchmen is deposited in the fund. The women's groups in Kalimati and Adhikari-Tole in Begnas VDC are strong and efficient at watching and patrolling the community forests and plantation areas.

Community forests

The project has mobilized the people to built stone walls along the perimeter of plantation areas.

The project has also trained nursery and plantation watchmen and users. It has identified the primary users of plantations and natural forests, and shifted the responsibility for protecting these forests to them. The project follows the following steps in handing over the responsibility for managing forests to the users:

- identifying forest users through field visits and with the assistance of local people and motivators,

- forming forest users' group committee (FUGC),

- identifying forests that are often used by the community,

- demarcating the forest area with sketches and description of forest resources,

- helping FUGCs to establish forest nurseries, and

- providing support for the preparation of operational plans.

In 1991, the first community forest was handed over to the community of Ward No. 1 Begnas VDC in Kaski District. The area of the forest is about 16.5 ha and 207 users manage and share its benefits. Since then, the BTRT Project has made remarkable progress in handing over planted and natural forests to the community. It helped forest users prepare operational plans for managing the forests and in many cases, users have already started collecting and sharing the benefits. In addition, people's awareness of the need to conserve natural forests has gradually increased.

Specifically, 28 operational plans covering a total area of 1,042 ha of natural forest and 36 operational plans for managing 320 ha of plantations have been prepared by local communities with the help of the project. It is believed that about 5,425 users are benefited from these forests.

Based on the area planted by each community, the project had provided financial support ranging from NRs. 500-1,000 (exchange rate: US$ 1 = NRs. 50 in Jan. 1995) for other community development activities. With this support the communities have initiated cardamom plantation in me community forests.

Management of private and community lands

Innovative agricultural practices

There is at least one innovative conservation farmers in each ward in the BTRT area. The improved farming practices they have adopted include:

- relay cropping of peas and maize, and inter-cropping of winter maize, peas and mung beans in finger millet,

- institutionalization of conservation extension farmers and demonstration farms,

- agro-forestry on homestead plots in the form of fruit, fodder, and legume crops,

- kitchen gardens and vegetables such as cow peas, beans, brinjal, okra, pepper, cauliflower, cabbage and radish,

- thirty farmers produce garlic and onions on a large-scale,

- fodder trees and grasses such as ficus, broom grass, nepier, and bamboos, are planted on terrace risers and on marginal lands (kharbari),

- planting coffee on terrace risers and marginal lands is increasingly popular. Banana, fodder and fruit trees are planted to shade the coffee plants,

- cardamom with other fruit and fodder trees, is planted on the terrace risers and marginal lands, and in natural forests,

- pear, peach and low chilling varieties of apple trees are planted in the high hills,

- some farmers have enough water to manage a fishpond,

- bio-gas plants are installed on some farms and the gas is used for cooking and for lighting their houses,

-mixed cropping, i.e. mixing maize with cow peas and soybeans, or potato with peas and radish, is practised on most farms,

- diversion channels are constructed to protect farms against overland flood erosion,

- it is now possible to grow more than one crop on bari and khet lands because of controlled grazing and stall feeding,

- fruit trees including pineapple, banana, guava, peaches, oranges and other citrus etc, are planted on terrace risers,

- Juthe Pokhari (kitchen waste water collection ponds) have been introduced in the corners of front yards of houses. The water collected is used for vegetables.

Management practices on individual farms

The layout of farms in the BTRT area is traditional. Crops such as vegetables that need intensive care are planted around the houses. Fruit trees are grown on south-facing slopes and are inter-cropped with pineapples. Fodder and fuel-wood are planted on farm boundaries. Shade-loving rhizomes and tuber crops are found behind the houses or on north facing slopes.

Farmers manage their land very well. Terrace slopes are in good condition and their slopes are within the prescribed limits.

An estimated 0.2 ha of farm land is needed to meet an individual's food requirements in hill areas. However, nearly 65% of the families in the BTRT area cultivate < 1 ha of land to support an average family size of 7-9 members (where as 1.2 ha of land is required to support this size of family). This data suggests that the farmers in the BTRT area are required to make a struggle for survival. To tell the story of the farmers' ingenuity in struggle for survival, three cases are illustrated below:

Bishnu Thapa's farm

The farming practices typical of the BTRT area are epitomized by the practices of Bishnu Thapa, a farmer in Hanspur VDC (Chhetri 1988).

Before the project intervened, Bishnu cultivated 0.95 ha of land to support his seven family members (40% of his land is khet and 60% is bari). He had a small fruit tree orchard on his bari land and additionally he grew maize inter-cropped with cow peas, followed by relay cropping of finger millet on these lands. On his khet land, he grew vegetables and paddy.

Bishnu is concerned with soil fertility, seed production, storage quality and adaptability of his farming practices. The land he bought eight years ago was infertile and denuded. Agricultural production was hardly enough to meet his requirements. Spending all his savings, he bought six buffaloes and started improving his farm by adding 4-5 tons of manure. He also used polyethylene pipes to irrigate his field. In the winter, he manured the farm by keeping his animals on a piece of fallow land for 2-3 months. Within two years, he observed improvements in soil fertility and crop production. Chemical fertilizer was used only when the farm yard manure was inadequate, especially for growing paddy and potato.

Bishnu maintained diversity on his farm by planting citrus, guava, pineapple, banana, mangos, fodder, and fuelwood trees. He also raised fish in paddy fields. Most of the crops he grew were local varieties because of their good taste and quality, and resistance to pests and disease. Bishnu had bad experiences with high-yielding varieties of seed, especially with maize and potato seeds.

For seven years, the BTRT Project and other agencies encouraged and supported Bishnu. Her is still working hard to sustain his family. He has only 0.85 ha of land (0.1 ha was lost to a landslide), and his family size with the addition of a daughter has increased to eight.

Bishnu and his family work hard to maintain soil fertility. Four buffaloes provide milk, draft power and manure, and in the winter they stay in fallow fields to provide manure in-situ. In turns, Bishnu feeds his buffaloes fodder from farm trees and crop residues. Crops that require high nitrogen content such as wheat and potato, are treated with chemical fertilizers.

The fodder, fuelwood and fruit trees on the bari land are several years old and will soon reap many benefits. On khet land, in addition to growing paddy and maize, Bishnu grows wheat, garlic, onion and peas. Because onion, garlic, and peas store well, Bishnu gets a good return from their cultivation.

On the edge of khet land, he has introduced mustard and cardamom and this year he has planted potatoes on one ropani (0.05 ha) land. Since, Bishnu's farm is near a forest, he gets plenty of fodder and water for irrigation. However, since monkeys like peas, peas must be grown close to his house and be closely and constantly guarded.

Over the seven years of collaboration with different agencies, Bishnu also learned the benefits of rotating crops and cultivating legumes. He has successfully cultivated high value cash crops and earned a net income of about NRs 2,900 by cultivating vegetables on 0.05 ha. The food requirements of Bishnu's family are met by conservation farming and by selling cash crops.

For these reasons, his farm has become a resource centre, as it is located along the main walking trail to Hansapur. Innovative farming practices are closely observed by farmers passing by the trail. A few other farmers have also introduced peas and garlic into their farming systems.

Chhabilal Bhurtel's farm

Chhabilal Bhurtel, aged 46 years, a conservation farmer at Bhurtelgoan, Majthana VDC, has about 0.5 ha of bari land farm in the village (gaon) and 0.25 ha of khet land in besi (flat low land). Ten years ago Chhabilal cultivated maize, finger millet, orange and banana trees on bari land and rice, wheat, potato and mustard on khet land. Agricultural production was enough to sustain his family of five members.

Over the past years Chhabilal has increased the intensity of his farming. Since his family size increased to ten, he had to try many innovations. He brought his own drinking water system from a source nearby and the project trained him in fruit cultivation and animal health. He has introduced coffee, broom grass, pineapple, guava, lime, cardamom, ginger, and vegetables such as peas, beans, yams, garlic, and onions, on his farm. He also cultivates rice variety Radha-6 in shady places.

Though he used indigenous methods of propagation, the banana trees were damaged by stem borer. In 1960's, his father advised him to substitute the diseased banana trees for yam plants and since then he has increased cultivation of yams. He built a small dry stone wall along the edge of a riser and filled the land with soil and animal manure. Now, he cultivates and harvests 10-15 Kg of yams every day for 100 days, starting in January.

Chhabilal has 75 orange trees, 369 banana trees, and 20-25 coffee plants. The banana trees yield 1 or 2 bunches every day all year round. Although, the oranges are damaged by hailstones, he still sells a significant amount. His coffee plants are too young to produce for the market, but he prepares instant coffee dust for home consumption. Before crop diversification, his annual earning was only about NRs. 7,000. However, by last year, his annual earning increased to NRs. 47,500. He sold NRs 4,000 of oranges, NRs. 2,000 of coffee, NRs. 4,000 of broom grass, NRs. 36,000 of banana, and NRs. 1,500 of pineapples. In addition, he sold two litres of milk every day. With this income, Chhabilal was able to afford to marry his two daughters and has impressed his neighbours to adopt some of his innovations.

In the near future Chhabilal wants to cultivate improved varieties of pepper and sweet potatoes. He also wants to receive training in beekeeping before he adopts this practice too.

Surya Prasad Adhikari's farm

Surya Prasad Adhikari is a leading farmer in Begnas VDC. Ten years ago, he had only 3 ropanis (0.15 ha) of bari land in Dandathar gaon (village) and another small piece of land near the Begnas lake. Surya had a wife and two children. He brought coffee plants from Gulmi and planted them under the shade of chilaune (Schima wallichii) trees. He cultivated maize, finger millet, fruit, and vegetables such as radish, potato, and cauliflower on the terraces. The chilaune provided protection against hailstones, and leaves as organic manure.

In 1985, Surya sold the land near the lake and purchased 8 ropanis (0.4 ha) of degraded community land in Deurali Danda near Dondathar gaon for NRs. 8,000. Water is very scarce in this area. He planted Koiralo (Bauhinia sp.), orange, and banana trees, pineapple and coffee plants, and nepier, sunhemp, and broom grasses. Initially, he applied the bones of dead animal as fertilizer. Later, he used hair mulching. He wanted to develop the area as a mixed tree orchard with zero tillage.

In 1985-86, the BTRT Project identified Surya as a conservation farmer and provided him training. Today he grows many species of fruit trees including orange, litchi, sweet orange, mango, mandrill, guava, jackfruit, banana, papaya, and coffee, and fodder trees such as chilaune (Schima wallichii), tuni (Cedrela toona), Melia sp., Koiralo (Bauhimia sps.), sunhemp (Crotalana juncea). Surya earns annually about NRs. 10,000 from selling oranges, NRs. 5,000 from coffee, NRs. 5,000 from pineapple and NRs. 5,000 from selling other fruits. His farm is an example of permaculture whose experiences he shares with other farmers and NGO's.

Surya was the first farmer in Begnas to cultivate coffee. He established a Coffee Association in 7 VDCs of the BTRT area to promote coffee cultivation, train farmers in coffee cultivation and to develop market facilities. Last year he invited the Coffee Company Ltd. of Butwal to the BTRT area. Surya and other farmers sold coffee to the company for NRs. 24/Kg.

In 1994, Surya bought 3 ropanis (0.15 ha) of land adjacent to his house for NRs 42,000. He is currently cultivating legumes such as beans, masyam (pulses) and vegetables. He now wants to develop a multi-story agro-forestry system. Though water is scarce, Surya aims to increase his yields on this land without applying chemical fertilizers or pesticides.

Management of marginal lands

The increasing population pressure has compelled farmers to cultivate even the most fragile marginal lands even though this has caused heavy soil losses. The project has identified quality agricultural inputs and technical support services for those farmers who cultivate marginal land. All improved farming practices are implemented through a group of farmers. In fact, a prerequisite for receiving BTRT services and input is that farmers form a CDCC. Farmers were ready not only to pay for the fruit saplings themselves, but convince their neighbours to participate in the program so that there would be a large group fund.

The project has introduced agro-forestry to utilize marginal and erosion-prone land more efficiently. Fruit and fodder trees and cash and legume crops are the major species planted in agro-forestry plots.

A group of 5-15 farmers are involved in the agro-forestry program. The size of land on an average is about one ha. About 2,900 households in BTRT area are involved in marginal land agro-forestry program and cultivated a total of 44 ha. In the Syangkhudi sub-watershed area there are three major agro-forestry plots. The agro-forestry plot in Ardha is very popular and is much appreciated by visitors. Seeing that the 9,000 fruit trees have started to bear fruit and that other cash crops are also very productive, other villagers have replicated the agro-forestry activities.

A case history of Hariprasad Banstola and his community

In 1992, Hariprasad Banstola attended a week-long training course on conservation farming practices on low productive marginal lands. Encouraged by the BTRT Project, he motivated eight other farmers to adopt the marginal laud agro-forestry program. At the end of June 1992, the group started the program on 3 ha of marginal lands. The project provided seedlings at subsidized rates and assisted in establishing an irrigation system.

Hariprasad has one ha of marginal land on which he used to produce about 70 Kg of millet. After getting a bank loan of NRs. 11,000 to start his agro-forestry project, he planted an additional 769 fruit trees and 524 fodder trees. The major fruit trees are banana (40 Nos.), coffee (54), orange (84), and pineapple (150). The banana and pineapple started bearing fruit within 17 months. He also grew other seasonal crops and planted broom grass along risers.

Last year Hariprasad sold NRs. 2,400 of bananas. This year, by selling bananas, pineapples, and vegetables e.g. radish and cauliflower he earned about NRs 7,000. The sale of bananas accounted for NRs. 5,000. Since his income is increasing every year. Hariprasad is confident that he can pay back the bank loan in the next two years. He also hopes that he will be able to buy four milking buffalos within the next four years.

Water resource management

Although the Kaski district receives a large amount of rain during the rainy season, it dries up immediately. To conserve water, farmers constructed 35 reservoirs near the village. The water harvesting ponds were generally constructed on community land by the community with project support, although some were constructed privately for either religious purpose or private use. The water thus collected is used for watering livestock and for house construction tasks.

Spring water is also collected in water pits known as kuwa (shallow wells). The project has improved 50 water supply systems and renovated 67 kuwas.

In many cases foot trails are used as seasonal irrigation channels to irrigate higher terraces. The project has installed and improved about 55 (command area of 510 ha with 2010 house holds) such irrigation systems. Waste water from farms which is diverted to foot trails for disposal, scours trails and results in inconvenience to walkers and development of gullies. Assisting the local people in controlling these gullies and landslides, the project treated 35 (with 1520 house holds) gullies and landslides and controlled 12 torrents.

With the project support, farmers paved several trails in the BTRT area using indigenous techniques in order to reduce erosion. About 40 km of foot trails were improved.

Community development and organization

The BTRT project's strategy to ensure people's participation is based on community development, which is the process of encouraging local people to apply their initiative and energy to increase production and develop sustainable watershed management practices. The objective of community development is to help people find ways to organize self-help programs, and to provide techniques for ensuring cooperative action in developing and carrying out the programs.

By 1990, there were many overlapping users' groups in the BTRT area that the coordination of activities was becoming cumbersome and inefficient. Moreover, the local political bodies i.e. the village panchyats, were abolished in April 1990 while VDC representatives did not assume office till May 1992. During this transitional period, BTRT project introduced the concept of a community as a natural socio-ecological unit not defined by a village panchayat or ward boundary. A CDCC (Community Development Conservation Committee) was created for each natural community unit. The CDCC approach sensibilized people to their multiple needs and to their community's ability to meet them, and take responsibility for the same.

Each CDCC comprises of a single homogenous village and represents all households of that village. A ward may have one or more CDCCs depending on the number of separate villages in the ward. By April 1994, the BTRT Project had formed 100 CDDCs in order to link the project and the local users. The CDCCs are mainly responsible for identifying activities, forming users' group committees and resolving conflicts. They are the village counterparts of the project.

The CDCCs in Rakhi and Hansapur VDCs have drafted constitutions for their committees. The CDCCs in the village Deumadi Kalika, and Bastologoan in Majthana VDC are in the process of registering themselves with the District Administration Office. Handikhola CDCC is registered as an NGO after assessing its institutional capabilities.

The project has targeted homogenous and heterogeneous groups, women, teachers, local leaders, farmers, occupational castes and minority groups. This is done through field demonstrations, meetings, study tours and informal contacts. This is aimed at creating awareness about the problems of soil erosion, about conservation, environment-friendly development, and about the importance of every body's involvement. This focus is reflected in the composition of CDCCs. Among the 100 CDCCs formed, there are 27 women CDCCs, and nine CDCCs belong to occupational caste and minority groups. In Lekhnath VDC, there are only four CDCCs, out of which three are women CDCCs.

Every member of a community contributes NRs. 1-10/month to the CDCC fund. The money is deposited in the CDCC's own account at the Agricultural Development Bank.

In addition to the membership fees, some CDCCs have installed kinehouse (a place to keep stray animals), collect fines from livestock owners whose livestock damage the crops/plants of other villagers. Other sources of income are subsidies from the project, donations from visitors and money generated by mobilizing internal resources. The active CDCCs are highly organized and conduct regular meetings, keeps good records, and raise funds on their own. As of December 1994, the 100 CDCCs represented 3,630 households in the BTRT area and had a total savings of NRs. 648,926. There are as many as 27 CDCCs in Hanspur, but only 4 CDCCs are in Lekhnath VDC. The four CDCCs have more man NRs. 30,000 in savings. In fact, the Mohariya Gurung Goan CDCC has NRs. 41,139 in its account.

Community development board

With increased emphasis on the involvement of the communities in identifying, selecting and implementing project activities, the need for a coordinating body at the village level became apparent. Since CDCCs were not recognized by other Government agencies, or by village and district level political bodies, their role and scope were unclear.

The CDCCs ended up formulating and submitting requests directly to the BTRT Project without consulting VDCs. In addition, users not being able to analyze the overall situation, ignored the activities of other development agencies. As a result, the dependence of CDCCs on the BTRT Project increased. To combat these difficulties, the project conceptualized a mechanism for linking CDCCs with VDCs and with other development agencies.

Local elections for VDCs and DDCs were held in 1992. In order to foster interaction between VDCs and CDCCs, the project conducted a workshop for VDC and CDCC representatives in March 1993. Its main objective was to define the relationship between CDCCs and VDCs. The workshop recommended that a Community Development Board (CDB) be formed at the VDC level to encourage cooperation between CDCCs, which are bodies concerned with development, and VDCs which are elected bodies of local Government. The Chairman, Vice-chairman and secretary of a VDC are the ex-officio chairman, vice-chairman and secretary of the CDB of a VDC. All ward members of the VDC and the chairmen of all the CDCCs in that VDC are the members of the board. The project technical staff in the VDC are advisors to the board.

Local club

In Begnas VDC, Surya Prasad Adhikari and others have registered a local club for development and conservation as a NGO. Surya, a conservation farmer who practices permaculture, is the Chairman. The project handed over a nursery to the club, which produces coffee, citrus and fodder tree seedlings for sale to other farmers.

The club, which has a fund of NRs 24,000 by January 1995, engages in activities such as the improved cook stoves construction, toilets, and improving sanitation, and drinking water systems. The club has also purchased a buffalo bull for breeding.

To improve land use, the club has been cultivating cardamom plants in natural as well as planted forests. Last year the net income from the sale of cardamom was NRs. 3,000. The club now plans to lease the community forests above the school from the FUG for 20 years. The club wants to cultivate coffee and practice sericulture in the forest without altering or disturbing the management options prescribed in the community forestry operational plan.

Changes and improvements in land use

The BTRT project addressed the problems of decreased land productivity, soil erosion, watershed degradation, and lack of resource conservation and it protected infrastructures by (a) conservation farming, (b) agro-forestry, (c) conservation engineering, (d) forest development and management, and (e) community organization, conservation training and extension.

Last ten years of project activity showed significant changes and improvements in land use in the project area. The project has: i) conserved about 870 ha of private land by terracing, mixed cropping, and relay cropping; ii) managed and protected about 1,050 ha of degraded and community forests; iii) developed about 320 ha of degraded community land and handed it over to users as community forests; iv) rehabilitated about 450 ha of different land types using various biological and engineering soil erosion treatment measures.

Economic benefits

Farmers who diversified or participated in the project's marginal land agro-forestry programs are now accruing economic benefits. The cultivation of coffee, pineapple, orange, cardamom, broom grass, and other fruits and vegetable crops generates income for farmers. Instead of keeping their land fallow, some farmers now practice agro-forestry. Table 2 demonstrates the profit so earned. The net saving of the CDCCs, in the BTRT area is about NRs 650,000, as shown in Table 3.

Changes in land productivity

The first phase of the project was aimed at testing conservation technology, selecting conservation farmers and developing farmers institutions. The second phase of the project was devised to enhance the productivity of watershed lands.

The intervention of the project has resulted in increased average yields of agricultural crops. The farmers' estimate of these changes have been given in Table 4.

The productivity of marginal grazing lands (Kharbari) on which agro-forestry systems are practised has increased significantly. These lands were earlier used for grazing and collecting thatch materials. Now they are used to grow fruit trees, coffee plants and grasses. Similarly, the degraded community grazing lands have become good sources of forest products. The estimates of the yields of fodder, fuelwood, and timber from community land are presented in Table 5.

Users' involvement in watershed management

The BTRT project demanded for local beneficiary or users' involvement as a prerequisite to initiating any activity. Over the years, the project identified several conservation farmers and users' groups who participated in the project activities. The approximate numbers of households or users involved in various project activities are presented in table 6.

Access to credit

The farmers in the BTRT area have access to credit from the Agricultural Development Bank at an interest rate of 18%. The credit is limited to agricultural programs and a farmer must put up a minimum of 0.1 ha of land as collateral. Since institutional credit facilities are not available for non-agricultural programs, and local money lenders charge very high interest rates and ask for assets as collateral, CDCC funds were created. Farmers who are in need of emergency loans can borrow between NRs. 100 to 1,000 at an interest rate of 2% per month from a CDCC fund. No asset has to be put up as collateral, but the debit must be cleared within two mouths.

Innovations by neighbouring farmers

The contribution of conservation farmers to their neighbouring farmers is significant. Many innovations yet simple agricultural practices were adopted by other farmers following demonstrations and field observations. In fact, 2,387 farmers improved cropping systems, 2,865 farmers started agro-forestry, 5,482 farmers initiated homestead gardening and more than 4,000 households (hh) planted fuel/fodder/fruit plants in their private farms. Five private nurseries of coffee, oranges and some vegetable seedlings, were also established.