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People’s Action for Watershed Development Initiative (PAWDI) was the project, jointly funded by Government of Rajasthan (GoR) and Swedish Development Council (SDC) in the late 1990s. It was executed by Department of Watershed Development and Soil Conservation (DWD&SC) and two local NGOs, namely Tarun Bharat Sangh (TBS) and Sahyog Sansthan in two districts (Alwar & Chittogarh) in Rajasthan.
Though the project was not a success, but it led to major legislation in Rajistan, India and later provided basis for Indian "Right to Information Law"
Case study report participatory development-Rajistan India
Rashid Abdullah – 19323
Raja Shoaib Akbar – 19608
Azhar Ali – 19345
Ali Abbas – 15693
Ch. Ibrar Sahi – 19764
Anis-ur-Rehman – 19468
Miss Aleezay Khaliq
1 | P a g e People’s Action for Watershed Development Initiative –Rajasthan, India
1. Acronyms.............................................................................Error! Bookmark not defined.
2. Executive Summary ............................................................................................................3
4. Local Partners .....................................................................................................................7
4.1 Sahyog Sansthan: .............................................................................................................7
4.2 Tarun Bharat Sangh (TBS).................................................................................................7
5. Project Details.....................................................................................................................8
6. Achievement despite failure (Lessons Learnt) ...................................................................9
7. Conclusion: .......................................................................................................................10
2 | P a g e People’s Action for Watershed Development Initiative –Rajasthan, India
SDC Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation
TBS Tarun Bharat Sangh
NGO Non-Governmental Organization
PRA Participatory Rural Appraisal
PAWDI People’s Action for Watershed Development Initiative
GoR Government of Rajasthan
DWD&SC Department of Watershed Development and Soil Conservation
GOs Governmental organizations
RTI Right to Information
3 | P a g e People’s Action for Watershed Development Initiative –Rajasthan, India
1. Executive Summary
Soil and water management or watershed development is very critical for sustainable rural
livelihoods in semi-arid and arid areas of India, where agriculture is heavily relaying on
rainfall and the means of protected irrigation are severely limited.
In Rajasthan, the driest and the largest province of India, the inhabitants have, over the
centuries, devised several mechanisms to tackle the problem of water scarcity for survival
The state, both in colonial and post-colonial times, has also focused on ensuring the
availability of water for irrigation in dry lands. The initial thrust of the Indian state (as well as
various provincial governments) in the first three decades after independence was on
achieving food self-sufficiency through dissemination of green revolution technology, and
construction of big dams, canals and major irrigation projects. While farming became quite a
profitable business in some parts of India (mostly in Punjab, Haryana, and western Uttar
Pradesh– which was the green revolution belt), the majority of peasants in rained areas (e.g.
most parts of Rajasthan) continued to practice subsistence farming in order to make ends
Having achieved the goal of food self-sufficiency during the 1980s, the new thrust of the
agricultural and rural development machinery in India was to incorporate rainfed areas into
the national mission of increasing agricultural productivity, and tofind relatively long-term
results to the problems of crop failures and droughts. A massive watershed development
project, called the National Watershed Development Project for Rainfed Areas was
launched by the Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India to increase agricultural
productivity in rainfed areas, including Rajasthan. Around the same time, international
development specialists and consultants also argued for strengthening of water and soil
conservation activities in arid and semi-arid regions across the world. The World Bank
decided to fund water and soil conservation projects in Rajasthan and some other states in
India in the early 1990s. Many international development and donor agencies, such as the
Ford Foundation and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) also
decided to sponsor similar projects in rainfed regions of India. Apart from these, several
non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and grassroots organizations, such as the Tarun
4 | P a g e People’s Action for Watershed Development Initiative –Rajasthan, India
Bharat Sangh (TBS) in Rajasthan, working close to village communities, started realizing the
signiﬁcance of common resources like rainwater, fodder and fuel-wood, particularly for the
poorer people in arid regions.
People’s participation and local control of natural resources were the key elements in their
strategies for rural development and they began to initiate rainwater harvesting and water
conservation programs. In the process they also attracted funding from international donors
for scaling up their efforts. As such, watershed development emerged as a new site and
mode of the operation of multiple development agencies, joining together, by the 1990s.
Based on this experiment and policy that had taken place, there were three signiﬁcant shifts
in developmentpractice in the early1990s.
1- First, the state has gradually lost its position as the leading agent of development
prompting a significant expansion in the role of non-state actors in rural
2- Second, there has been a rise in concern for sustainability, participation,
partnerships and decentralized management of natural resources like water or
3- Third, investments of money and resources by the state and non-state actors in
rainfed regions of India have increased in the wake of limits to further increase in
agricultural productivity of irrigated lands, and deliberate efforts (especially on the
part of the Indian state) to reduce regional disparities in the post green revolution
These important changes have designed the politics of development in rural regions of
India, as they have in large parts of the developing world where the majority of populations
are dependent on rainfed agriculture for survival and livelihoods. Besides, bringing in large
amount of money and resources from varied sources (foreign donors, national and
provincial governments, private humanitarian organizations and ﬁrms etc.) to the
countryside, they changed (created new or modiﬁed existing) institutional forms and
practices for the governance (control and management) of common property resources,
5 | P a g e People’s Action for Watershed Development Initiative –Rajasthan, India
such as village pastures, community forests, or watershed drainages, which are all very
crucial for the daily sustenance of village residents.
All of these changes have also led to the expansion of a network of development actors or
agents–the national, provincial and local governments in India, international, national and
local NGOs, international development agencies and donors, research organizations,
development consultants, and academics–whose common concern is securing the
availability of water, fodder and wood-fuel in rainfed areas.
The prime objective for the Ministry of Agriculture (of the Government of India) is an increase in the
crop yield and productivity of rainfed areas, and for the Ministry of Rural Development, it is
tackling rural poverty in dry lands by generating wage employment opportunities. For
international agencies (like the World Bank), ‘sustainable development’ of environmentally
fragile regions is the main motive to sponsor watershed projects, but for certain grassroots
and activist organizations, people’s control over local resources is the driving force for
supporting such programs. Nevertheless, the international development organizations has
(since the early 1990s) increasingly focused on promoting partnerships between state
agencies and NGOs with the expectation that such partnerships would be able to capitalize
on the relative strengths of the different partners. For example, the state agencies are likely
to have technical expertise or human resources and the grassroots organizations could help
with mobilizing communities for collective action. Moreover, the earlier watershed projects
sponsored and implemented by the state agencies in different parts of India were criticized
for lack of people’s participation.Arguably, in spite of diverse agendas and interests of
multiple agencies in the watershed development arena, there was complex assembling of
different actors in the form of partnerships in the 1990s.
Effective management of natural resources in economically fragile regions has remained a
major concern for international development donors, project implementing agencies as well
as for resource-dependent communities. It is suggested that multi-agency partnerships
involving various stakeholders (donors, governmental agencies, non-governmental
organizations (NGOs), etc.) could ensure better management of common property
resources, such as water, pastures or forests. This is important in dryland regions like
Rajasthan in India where the majority of agriculture is rain-fed and the development of
watersheds is crucial for the livelihoods of smallholders. This article presents a critical
6 | P a g e People’s Action for Watershed Development Initiative –Rajasthan, India
analysis of multiagency partnership in a participatory watershed development project
implemented in the late 1990s in rural Rajasthan.
In late 1980, the community participation approach was introduced by Robert Chamber who
is considered leading advocate of poor, deprived, and marginalized people’s participation in
the processes of development policies. This approach of participation is equally accepted by
both school of thought (pro-capitalist theorists and pro-communal/socialist theorists).
Under this participatory approach R. Chambers designed various methodsand tools.
Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) which includes various tools like transect walks,
seasonal calendar and social mapping to ensure the community participation in
development efforts. Chambers approach brought astandard shift from development
studies and practices to more people oriented and bottom-up approach. This report is
based on a case study of the project titled “People’s Action for Watershed Development
Initiative (PAWDI) which was implemented in Rajasthan, India in late 1990.
This case study report also reflects that there is a gradual change in the behavior of the
state attitude by involving the non-state actors and local community in the rural
development especially in watershed management of natural resources. Similarly, the
government policies look influenced and this project is addressing the sustainability,
participation, partnership and decentralized management of natural resources like water or
pasture land, within academic policy circle. (S. Gupta, 2014).
Another important aspect which is also covered and is very much related to the
participatory developments is about the strengths and weaknesses of the state and non-
state actors. It is common perception that state institutions of India are technically strong
but their performance in the participatory work is very weak. While in the case of non-state
actors (NGOs), comparatively they have less technical expertise but are very strong in the
social mobilization and participatory development at the gross root level. They can easily
establish good working relations with the local communities to implement the development
projects. Similarly state actor seems very comfortable to work under in the top-down
approach where there is a clear line of accountability and responsibility. Indeed, the non-
7 | P a g e People’s Action for Watershed Development Initiative –Rajasthan, India
state actors (e.g. civil society & community groups) look more comfortable in the bottom-up
approach and participatory mode of working. Despite of all challenges, the public-private
partnership is becoming an integral part of the development projects to build the trust of
community, non-state actors over government institutional and to make the utilization of
government resources more efficient and reduce the burden of repair and maintenance cost
over the shoulder of state budget.
People’s Action for Watershed Development Initiative (PAWDI) was the project, jointly
funded by Government of Rajasthan (GoR) and Swedish Development Council (SDC) in the
late 1990s. It was executed by Department of Watershed Development and Soil
Conservation (DWD&SC) and two local NGOs, namely Tarun Bharat Sangh (TBS) and Sahyog
Sansthan in two districts (Alwar & Chittogarh) in Rajasthan.
3. Local Partners
The brief details of the two important stakeholders of the project are given just to explain
that what these local organizations do.
4.1 Sahyog Sansthan:
Sahyog Sansthan is a registered voluntary organization based in northwestern India working
with marginalized groups in the fields of community education, organization, and
development. Our philosophy is that social and economic transformation of the poorest
sectors of society is possible through their own initiatives and leadership. Sahyog works to
provide support for people to realize these opportunities through self-help groups, human
resources development, and natural resources management.
4.2 Tarun Bharat Sangh (TBS)
People’s participation is a prerequisite for any developmental activity. TBS does not
undertake any activity unless the villagers agree to contribute maximum resources in term
of voluntary labor. The villager’s involvement gives them a sense of ownership and ensures
further continuance of the process.
8 | P a g e People’s Action for Watershed Development Initiative –Rajasthan, India
An important factor inspiring villagers to participate actively in the process is the revival of
their traditional water system, with which most of them are familiar. The role of TBS is that
of a catalyst and motivator.
Beginning from the organization’s origination TBS believe that for development process, it
needs to develop an excellent cell of human resource for grassroots work. TBS’s in-house
educated and actuated personnel boost livelihoods at the grassroots level. They work on an
ever-expanding scale in sectors as diverse as agriculture, natural resource management,
health, and women empowerment, each of them playing a key role in TBS’s grassroots
development programs and expansive outreach.
TBS undertakes self-evaluation exercises. While meetings are held every month, emergency
meeting can called any time. Here too, one of its main foci is on motivating people. It stresses
a great deal on professional way of doing things but with a humane approach.
The members of TBS are scattered in the field leading simple life with the villagers, so that
they are one with them in their day to day problems and help them in finding indigenous
4. Project Details
The targeted project was broadly focused on the relationship of multi-agencies toward the
achievement of project objectives and it gives a least focus on the community participation
in implementation of the project which is against the participatory approach. The projects
become a source of inter-conflict among agencies for the sake of dominance over project
resources instead of mutual coordination toward participatory development. Secondly,
another big issue was, there had been frequent reshuffling or transfer & postings of the
government officers, once a structure was finalized and officials were capacitated and
trained them and later they were transferred to other projects and departments which
hampered the project badly. In most of the cases, officers who were involved in planning,
designing phase of the multi-agency development project, they were found absent during
implementation or closing phase of the project due to their reshuffling or transfers. A new
officer cannot develop same sort of ownership, that senior colleagues usually attain as an
initiators, and they probably cannot be well verse about working mechanisms and could not
understand the project strategy, due to late joining in the middle or end. They were
9 | P a g e People’s Action for Watershed Development Initiative –Rajasthan, India
reluctant to cooperate or to accept the responsibility of the shared work. The funds were
badly managed and most of the funds were miss used due to the massive corruption, people
could not question NGOs, government departments about the project funds as there had
been no legislation in its support, In this way the multi agency partnership project failed
badly. There was mistrust among different departments involved in the implementation.
However, this led to a great discourse in India and on the basis of this failure; certainly the
lack of participation of the community in development project turned into a revolutionary
campaign, where people started asking questions about their tax money and its utilization
and under this immense pressure, Government initiated some legislative measures that
were important to for better governance.
This failure also reflects that even a failed project most of time lead toward positive
initiatives and changes. Particularly in the case of PAWDI, where corruption and
misappropriation of project funds’ were very common, this project contributed to introduce
new laws such as “Right to Information” in India to ensure the transparency and
accountability of public funds.
5. Achievement despite failure (Lessons Learnt)
The biggest achievement that citizens gained from this failure is RTI law, now citizens could
seek information from private sector organizations, NGOs and government departments.
It was an innovative watershed development project in Rajasthan which was based on the
notion of synergy, using the comparative advantages of governmental organizations (GOs)
and NGOs. The project was titled People’s Action for Watershed Development Initiative
(PAWDI), implemented in the late 1990s. The main partners in this case were Rajasthan’s
Department of Watershed Development and Soil Conservation (DWD&SC), two local NGOs
and the SDC. The project was a failure for it was abandoned halfway but it offered, in result,
important lessons for both policy-makers and implementing agencies interested in
participatory natural resources management. The new environment of rural development
marked by rights-based legislations which directs the transfer of beneﬁts to the poor does
not require agencies to be active collaborators to hold each other accountable. While the
issues of accountability and corruption can now be dealt with in the framework of these
10 | P a g e People’s Action for Watershed Development Initiative –Rajasthan, India
enabling legislations, some fundamental issues pertinent to the functioning of GO–NGO
partnerships, such as differences in work culture, ideology, value, priorities and agendas of
the implementing partners have not been thought through enough by the policy-makers in
India. These issues are crucial for the operational purposes and effective delivery of
developmental projects involving multi-agency partnerships. In fact, the discourse of state–
NGO partnerships in the Indian context has solidiﬁed since the 1990s and policy-makers
have preferred to turn a blind eye to on ground realities.
The participatory approach could not be implemented in the true spirit in the PAWDI
project. The government agencies tried to adopt the traditional concept of mainstream
development (Top-Down approach), while donor agencies focused on participatory and
partnership mode. This situation created an environment of conflict instead of cooperation
among different stakeholders. In such situation, there was the need to have proper
legislation and enactment of law. That is why; both state and non-state actors look reluctant
to work with each other. In this project, DWD&SC engineers were not interested to involve
NGOs in development activities and vice versa. The selection of the NGOs was done without
assessing their past performance in the context of such joint working relationship.
The results of the case study illustrate that good institutional form does not mean a good
institutional performance. It was a real challenge to work as team when different agencies
like donor, state institutions and NGOs workers belonged to different social worlds and class
groups were involved in design and implementation, therefore, it was really difficult to stay
together on same page and wavelength. The donor expectations were also unrealistic and
against the ground realities which lead to failure, which was trying to achieve the project
objectives by involving the community and non-state actors. Civil society can plan a vital role
in the oversight process and become helpful to curb the mal practices and corruption in the
11 | P a g e People’s Action for Watershed Development Initiative –Rajasthan, India
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