SILWAL Nisha, DHUNGANA Nabin, SUBEDI Rajan, UPADHAYA Suraj, LEE Chun-Hung. 2024: Community perspectives on the effectiveness of watershed management institutions in the Himalayas. Journal of Mountain Science, 21(4): 1119-1139. DOI: 10.1007/s11629-023-8424-8
Citation: SILWAL Nisha, DHUNGANA Nabin, SUBEDI Rajan, UPADHAYA Suraj, LEE Chun-Hung. 2024: Community perspectives on the effectiveness of watershed management institutions in the Himalayas. Journal of Mountain Science, 21(4): 1119-1139. DOI: 10.1007/s11629-023-8424-8

Community perspectives on the effectiveness of watershed management institutions in the Himalayas

  • The sustainability of environmental management initiatives, such as watershed management programs, relies on the presence of effective institutions at the watershed level. However, there needs to be more empirical evidence from evaluating the effectiveness of watershed-level institutions. Therefore, this study presents a pioneering effort to evaluate the effectiveness of Nepal's first watershed conservation committee at the watershed scale, focusing on the case of the Khageri Khola watershed in Central Nepal. The study involved conducting a household survey, key informant interviews, focus group discussions, and field observations to collect and analyze the data. Descriptive analysis, index value calculation, and chi-square statistics were then employed to summarize the results regarding local respondents' perceptions of twelve institutional characteristics, their rationalities, and their association with socio-demographic variables. The results reveal that the watershed conservation committee was perceived as performing well in managing the watershed. Specifically, good interaction, appropriate scale, technical, environmental, social, organizational, and government rationality were perceived as highly effective, with an average index value of less than 0.36. In contrast, clarity of objectives and economic rationality showed moderate effectiveness, with an average index value ranging from 0.36 to 0.65. However, the results suggested that adaptiveness, compliance capacity, and financial rationality merit increased attention, intending to improve their performance. Further, the results showed the association of socio-demographics with respondents' perceptions of various indicators of institutional characteristics and their rationalities. Therefore, the study provides valuable insights for policymakers, researchers, and development practitioners charged with designing sustainable and effective programs and institutions. To enhance the effectiveness and sustainability of watershed management programs, we recommend establishing a policy-guided institutional mechanism at the watershed scale. This mechanism should be based on various institutional characteristics and rationalities and should consider the extant variability in the socio-demographic and topographic characteristics of the watershed.
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