A Perspective on Watershed Development in the Central Himalayan State of Uttarakhand, India

Malavika Chauhan


This paper discusses the evolution of watershed development projects and their implementation in the central Himalayan state of Uttarakhand in India. It traces the historical growth of thinking on watershed in the region, and highlights issues and influences. Impacts and benefits are discussed in relation to sustainability. The review shows that success in these projects is usually isolated, mostly seen in small micro-watersheds with naturally good water harvesting conditions. Overall, the results and impacts of watershed programmes in the region have been vastly disproportionate to financial and technical inputs, usually because benefits are slow, gradual and unevenly distributed. The involvement of NGOs, which bring a strong social organizational aspect to the activities, brought necessary focus to the programmes. However, in some areas unhealthy levels of community dependence on NGOs are visible, losing the long-term sustainability factor. Gaps in the understanding of technical aspects including hydrogeological issues, changing livelihood and landuse patterns, and upstream – downstream linkages continue to undermine possible impacts. However, watershed programmes are evolving with time, adapting and streamlining thinking and processes, and lessons learned are being used in the design and development of future programmes. 


Drought Prone Area Programme; Integrated Watershed Development Project; Livelihoods; Sukho Majri; Sustainable Development; Watershed Concept

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