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Managing local conflicts over water resources: A case study from Nepal & Kumpulan Informasi Teknis: A process and tool to obtain, build on and disseminate local technical knowledge

Research reports

Both of these papers highlight the role of local institutions and knowledge in the development process. The first paper examines the many on-going debates in Nepal between GOs, NGOs, donors and other stakeholders over how to achieve more efficient, productive and equitable use of water resources. Attempts to coordinate stakeholder solutions at the macro-level have made little progress. This has led to an increased emphasis on finding locally relevant solutions to these issues, initiated at the micro-level. People have their own mechanisms and procedures to deal with decision-making as well as to manage conflict. However, these initiatives have hitherto received little attention. This paper presents an analysis of the strategies and mechanisms that local people use to manage conflicts over water resources. It begins by introducing some theoretical concepts, which are useful in understanding the nature of conflict and the negotiation process. A case study describing how individuals and institutions tackled problems relating to access to spring water in Dolakha district in central Nepal is then presented. It concludes that with appropriate facilitation, local people are able to create a common forum to resolve their own conflicts and establish win-win solutions to internal disputes over resource us. Both of these papers highlight the role of local institutions and knowledge in the development process.

The second paper looks at Kumpulan Informasi Teknis (KIT – compilation of technical information) an extension tool and process that uses local knowledge to facilitate agricultural technology development in Indonesia. Local extension and research institutions assemble local-specific technological information KITs for the predominant farming systems in an agro-ecological region. KITs are based on research information and farmers’ local knowledge. Each KIT consists of single-page sub-topics that are printed on heavy-stock, coloured paper and kept in a loose-leaf folder for easy updating. Field extension workers (FEWs) use KITs to support their own training sessions and in their meetings with farmer groups. KITs contain a selection of alternative technical recommendations and decisionmaking criteria to support sustainable farming. While sharing this information with farmers, FEWs will inevitably uncover more details regarding farmer’s knowledge that can be used to improve the KIT. This local knowledge is then disseminated to other FEWs and farmers and is used to update the KIT. A key positive observation of the project has been the acknowledgement of and openness to the value of farmers’ knowledge on the part of extension institutions, and a willingness of extension agents to use local knowledge when developing recommendation.  Nevertheless, various challenges still lie ahead if the potential of the KIT process is to be fully exploited.

Bishnu Raj Upreti, Thomas Dierolf, Eberhard Krain, Ellen Kramer, M.S. Tarmudji and Amir Nasution