Central and State governments, donors and NGOs have all been involved in implementing watershed programmes in India. Although the details vary with different projects, the basic institutional structures are similar. Money flows to a project implementing agency (either a government or non-government organisation) which works closely with a village-level body—a watershed committee—to design and implement project activities. Evidence suggests that certain social groups have consistently been marginalised by watershed development projects. These include the landless, families in the upper levels of catchments, marginalised tribal groups and women. The two papers in this volume assess the level of involvement of women in watershed projects and describe the impact of watershed development on their roles and responsibilities. Both papers emphasise that unless women play a central role in the decision-making process, the long-term sustainability of development efforts is threatened. Paper 88a reviews a number of government and non-government projects in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. It argues strongly that unless we progress from a view where women are treated as a ‘disadvantaged group’ to a point where they are treated as integral members of the community, development efforts will continue to sideline women’s concerns. It emphasises the need to ensure that watershed development activities are compatible with women’s livelihood strategies. Paper 88b looks in detail at a German-funded project in Maharashtra. It advocates the need for a sectoral approach to meeting women’s needs. Both papers provide practical suggestions on how to ensure that watershed development programmes respond to the concerns of women.
Vasudha Lokur Pangare and Marcella d’Souza