Community watershed management in semi-arid India: The state of collective action and its effects on natural resources and rural livelihoods.CAPRi Working Paper No. 85 uri icon


  • Spatial and temporal attributes of watersheds and the associated market failuresthat accelerate degradation of agricultural and environmental resources requireinnovative institutional arrangements for coordinating use and management ofresources. Effective collective action (CA) allows smallholder farmers to jointlyinvest in management practices that provide collective benefits in terms ofeconomic and sustainability gains. The Government of India takes integratedwatershed management (IWM) as a key strategy for improving productivity andlivelihoods in the rain-fed and drought-prone regions. This study investigates theinstitutional and policy issues that limit effective participation of people incommunity watershed programs and identifies key determinants for the degree ofCA and its effectiveness in achieving economic and environmental outcomes. Weuse empirical data from a survey of 87 watershed communities in semi-arid Indianvillages to identify a set of indicators of CA and its performance in attaining desiredoutcomes. Factor analysis is used to develop aggregate indices of CA and itseffectiveness. Regression methods are then employed to test the effects of certainpolicy relevant variables and to determine the potential effects of CA in achievingdesired poverty reduction and resource improvement outcomes. We find a positiveand highly significant effect of CA on natural resource investments, but no evidenceof its effects on household assets and poverty reduction outcomes. This may beattributable to longer gestation periods for realizing indirect effects from collectivenatural resource investments and the lack of institutional mechanisms to ensureequitable distribution of such gains across the community, including the landlessand marginal farmers

publication date

  • 2008