The state of Kerala is known for being endowed with several water bodies like rivers, ponds and network of backwaters and lagoons. Moreover, it is flanked by the Arabian Sea on its west and the Western Ghats mountains on the east. The smaller catchment of rivers and streams needs to be maintained sustainably which has led to the implementation of the Integrated Watershed Management Programme (IWMP) and the Western Ghats Development Programme (WGDP). For about ten years and more, it has been carried out via a participatory approach through the local governance system better known as ‘panchayathi raj system’. This was done so that the community would play a role in the identification, formulation and implementation of the activities in the watershed area. The choice of using qualitative methods predominantly can analyse the role of community, local government representatives and the NGOs involved in the programme. A two-case study comparitive analysis is carried out, to understand the similarities between their governance structure and the level of engagement among the beneficiaries. It was observed that the community had a miniscule role in the programme as many of them have moved away from agriculture and work in the private sector. They neither could relate or understand the issues of the region when it came to formulation of activities that would lead to a livelihood for the community.

Kerala, watershed management, participation, accountability, governance, decentralisation
Tankha, Sunil S.
Governance and Development Policy (GDP)
International Institute of Social Studies

Nair, Aanchal. (2019, December 20). An assessment of participatory governance in watershed programmes: A case of Kerala state in India. Governance and Development Policy (GDP). Retrieved from