Institutionalizing Community Participation and Sustainable Irrigation Management: A Case Study from India

Monday, July 14, 2014: 5:45 PM
Room: Booth 65
Oral Presentation
Niharranjan MISHRA , Humanities and Social Sciences, National Institute of Technology, Rourkela, India
Community participation has become a key method in contemporary development projects. Most of the projects have given emphasis on community participation.  Learning through experiences for proper operation and maintenance of irrigation systems and supply of irrigation water in adequate quantity according to a farmer's need on time in a predictable, reliable and equitable manner, decentralised governance of irrigation infrastructure have recently been emphasised as an essential precondition. Centre as well as some States in India has adopted various Acts to encourage farmers’ participation in irrigation management. Using anthropological techniques, the present paper attempts to see the villagers’ participation in traditional system of irrigation management among the tribal communities in kalahandi district of Western Orissa. It also critically examines the intervention of new institutions in irrigation management and their impact on age-old traditional system of community management.

It is observed in our study that the collective action or community participation was quite prevalent in the traditional system of irrigation management of tribal communities. The local knowledge, community cohesion, social capitals, traditional practices, values and beliefs were playing the most important roles in the traditional system of management. The government sponsored Water Users’ Association, which is not devised based on the local culture and needs of the local tribal communities, is not able to evoke their participation in the Water Users’ Association. The culture of ignorance, drinking alcohol, feeling marginal, poverty, illiteracy, the improper co-ordination between irrigation officials and beneficiaries, Physical structure of canals, dominance of head reach, higher caste large farmers have influenced the participation of marginal farmers. Moreover, some of the factors like social norms define domestic works and childcare as women’s work and social perceptions discount women’s abilities and opinions restricts women’s participation in WUAs.