Block 1: Watershed Management
1.2 “Actors” in watershed management
The concept of “actors” , “actors’ analyses”, “actors’ network”, “actors’ communication”, “actor’s oriented perspectives” are few of the concepts raised in assessing actors’ role in development discourse, which could also be applied in watershed management.
Approaches and technologies for watershed management have evolved through time. The current quest for watershed management is subsumed in a concept “integrated watershed management” (IWM). The concept of IWM embodies several approaches which are quite different from past experiences. Participatory approaches, from problem identification to project implementation, become cornerstones for successful watershed management and/or for sustainable land management. Regarding the governance of watershed, Genskow and Born (2006) depicts that “one of the most significant institutional innovations in natural resources and environmental management over the past decades or so has been widespread emergence and growth of collaborative and partnership based watershed initiatives”. In this it is necessary to think “…a wide range of governmental and non-governmental actors, whose decisions influence the health and integrity of ecological systems. The challenge for a watershed governance program is to get this portfolio of actors and programs to work together more effectively. Watershed management should therefore be viewed as an effort to build, manage, and maintain inter-organizational networks; in other words, to develop an institutional ecosystem...”
Watershed is a special kind of common pool resource: an area defined by hydrological linkages where optimal management requires coordinated use of natural resources by all users. Management is difficult because watershed systems have multiple, conflicting uses, so any given approach will spread benefits and costs unevenly among users. Hence, multiple players are there in managing watershed resources which need proper analyses of actors and their contributions or effects is important for making use of the opportunities obtained from them and for reducing possible reactions.
Few definitions of actors:
Actors are person/s or institutions, who bring about or prevent change in an innovation system. In any development endeavor and intervention, actors are agents of change (Biggs and Matsaert 2004). The outcome any development effort, including watershed management, depends on actor’s action and reaction. Actor is a social entity, person or organization, able to act or exert influence on a decision (Rault 2009). Actors are defined as “persons, groups, organizations…that are capable of making decisions and acting in a more or less coordinated way”), in other words, they are “action-units” (Burns et al., 1985, p. x; Klijn and Teisman, 1992, p. 8; Bots et al., 2000 in Hermans 2005)
In participatory watershed management, beneficiaries, people or communities that are residing in that watershed are not the only important actors and stakeholders. Collaboration between watershed management programmes and civil society is now increasingly mediated by a variety of institutional actors, including legally recognized user groups, unions, associations, cooperatives, local administrations, line agencies, NGOs and private companies. As these actors have diverse and sometimes conflicting interests and concerns, the main goal of participatory watershed management has shifted from awareness raising and social mobilization to negotiation and partnership (FAO, 2006:49)
1.2.2. Examples of actor categories
i. Sponsors such as donors and financial institutions
ii. Political parties/environment activists – agenda setters iii. Investors/National and Multinational or transnational corporations iv. Scientists and researchers and their networks (environmentalists) v. Consumers
vi. Local and International NGOs, international or multilateral organizations...
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