The report on “Watershed Development in Maharashtra” by Society for Promoting Participative Ecosystem Management (SOPPECOM) ), on behalf of the Forum for Watershed Research and Policy Dialogue (ForWaRD), deals with the present scenario and issues for restructuring the programme. The concept of integrated and participatory watershed development and management has emerged as the cornerstone of rural development in the dry and semi-arid regions of India. Over the years the country has been making increasing investments in this area with the objective of enhancing the production potential of rainfed agriculture.
The present review of watershed programmers in Maharashtra is not an attempt to evaluate nor assess the impact of the large number of watershed projects that have been implemented in the state. Rather, this is more or less an exercise in stock taking and learning from the past. Even though the review makes an attempt to provide a bird’s eye view of achievements of watershed projects in the state, the focus is on situating the programme in the context of the larger developmental objective of sustainable and equitable livelihoods in rainfed areas.
In this larger context, the stock taking exercise has been carried out with a difference where the status of watershed development is being examined through the lens of a normative framework that lays special emphasis on productivity and livelihoods, equity, sustainability, and participation/democratic decentralization.
The review is based mainly on the existing sources of information (studies, reviews, reports, data available with different state departments etc.), which in fact, are quite scanty. There is also a serious problem of availability of such information in the public domain, besides inconsistency in information/data on issues related to the spread/coverage and physical and financial progress of projects. Nevertheless, the report has tried to overcome the constraints in qualitative information, at least partly, by holding detailed discussions with a large number of key informants and also by visiting a few sites of selected watershed projects.
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