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Participation in the Himalayan foothills : lessons from watershed development in India (Inglês)

This study examines the degree of participation of primary beneficiaries in the preparation of the Integrated Watershed Development Project (IWDP) in India and the impact of such participation on the planning and design process. A considerable number of villagers were involved in the social assessment and village development planning, and were thus consulted on the overall approach and choice of local-level project activities. The importance of women in the Hill economy raised gender sensitivity in relation to resource management and income generation. The tribal study placed the particular requirements of pastoral transhumants firmly on the agenda for the project preparation. However, despite considerable achievements in participation, the social assessment was finalized too late to have any major impact on the design of the Project Appraisal Documents. As planning instrument, the social assessment would have been more useful if completed earlier and focused better on operational recommendations. The assessment did, however, feed into the project and village-level planning as implementation started. Hence, even if the social assessment products did not have a major impact on the design, it affected the project-level processes and planning in a positive manner. Overall, the project design was more a result of factors such as lessons learned from the first phase of the project and experience embodied in the Bank team and the executing agencies, rather than an effect of direct beneficiary participation. The study calls for a more open and critical dialogue about ecological change and participatory watershed development in the Himalayas with a greater variety of stakeholders, including academics from various disciplines, other donors, private sector interests, civil society groups and local farmers and herders.

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