KURIAN PH.D. Mathew
Associate Expert- Institutions and Policy Studies. International Water Management Institute (CGIAR) 127, Sunil Mawatha, Pelawatta, Battaramula. via Colombo. Sri Lanka Tel: 94-1-784080 Email: m.kurian@cgiar .org
In recent years decentralized development approaches have gained wide acceptance in policy circles. In the water resources sector in particular, Irrigation Management Transfer (IMT) and Joint Forest Management (JFM) policies have been promoted with support of multilateral development agencies like the World Bank and Asian Development Bank (ADB). IMT and JFM policies typically refer to devolving management of previously publicly controlled forests or irrigation systems to farmer’s groups or other private-sector groups (International Water Management Institute (IWMI) 1995:4). Donor supported JFM and IMT projects in particular have emphasized the need for community participation to undertake tasks of catchment protection and water allocation, collection of Irrigation Service Fees (ISF’s) and routine maintenance of irrigation infrastructure like water harvesting dams. (Kurian, 2001).
Gender is a recurring theme in discussions on participatory watershed management. There are essentially three arguments that have been put forward in support of according women a greater role in natural resources management. The first line of argument emphasizes the fact that poverty drives people to use environmental resources more intensively. As a consequence, land and water resources, especially those held in common, degrade thereby accentuating the environmental crisis. The growing environmental crisis further reduces the livelihood options of poor households and increases poverty. Increasing poverty, the argument goes, affects women and other marginalized groups like the landless more severely because of their lack of control over productive resources like arable land (Sudarshan 2001)...