All Paths Lead to Rain: Explaining why Watershed Development in India Does Not Alleviate the Experience of Water Scarcity

Abstract: Watershed development (WSD) projects in India are key to meeting a range of human development goals in rain-fed agrarian landscapes. However, outcomes are often observed to be partial and short-lived. Weoffer a novel perspective on the reasons. Our analysis shows that the dominant 'water narratives' of WSD policyand practice and the lived experience of local people contribute to a naturalisation of water scarcity, resulting inwidespread views that WSD is primarily a means for increasing irrigation water supply. We show how this over- simplifies the complex problem of agricultural water use and perversely contributes to a continuing experience of water scarcity rather than its resolution.

Contact: Zareen Bharucha

Project Dates: 2014

Keywords: Drylands, rainfed agriculture, pathology of natural resource management, scarcity, India, groundwater