|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|
|Result and discussions|
|Influences of the BTRT project on people's participation|
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.
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.
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.