Indigenous Knowledge of Water Management, Biodiversity Conservation and Local Development in Rural India: A Case Study of the Thanagazi Region (Rajasthan, India)

Maria Costanza Torri, Thora Martina Herrmann


Traditional irrigation, as part of the ancient agricultural practices in India has persisted for long time since the past. The main objective of this paper is thus to investigate the peculiarities pertinent to traditional irrigation management in Rajasthan, India. The experience gained from such areas can definitely help make irrigation management system of new irrigation schemes sustainable. Based on the study case of Thanagazi region, Rajasthan, the article seeks to demostrate that this form of traditional knowledge has been determinant in enhancing the conservation of the local ecosystem and also the development of rural communities dwelling in that area. The article develops this understandig through the examination of the johads and their impact on local communities. It shows how this traditional water harvesting tradition fits into the local ecological, socio-economic and cultural system present in the Thanagazi region. The main peculiarities that contributed to the persistence of traditional irrigation system are also identified, and they are: the presence of a system which is easily mastered by the local members of communities, the presence of communally constructed local rules, locally designed hydraulic control structures, ownership feeling of the irrigators and equity in water distributions, the culture for mobilizing communal resources and the culture of self-initiating local water management strategies. Lessons on the role of traditional water harvesting system and their role in promoting conservation and sustainable development are finally drawn.


Traditional Knowledge; Water; Johads; India

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