Gender Transformative Impacts from Watershed Interventions: Insights from a Mixed-Methods Study in the Bundelkhand Region of India

Padmaja, R and Kavitha, K and Pramanik, S and Duche, V D and Singh, Y U and Whitbread, A M and Singh, R and Garg, K K and Leder, S (2020) Gender Transformative Impacts from Watershed Interventions: Insights from a Mixed-Methods Study in the Bundelkhand Region of India. Transactions of the ASABE (TSI), 63 (1). pp. 153-163. ISSN 2151-0040

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This study examined gender perspectives on water security by exploring an integrated water management approach for agriculture, livestock, and human consumption. The data were generated in a watershed project to enhance drought resilience of farming through groundwater recharge and agroforestry interventions in the water-scarce Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh in central India. Post-intervention, a quantitative survey and qualitative gender and social analysis tools were applied to understand the benefits of the interventions for women, men, and the community as a whole. Quantitative data were collected from 700 individuals in five villages (three treatment villages and two villages where watershed interventions were not implemented). In addition, 33 semi-structured interviews and eight focus group discussions were conducted to understand local gender norms at the project sites. Data analysis revealed that the community benefits accrued from the watershed interventions included increased crop productivity and diversification of agriculture and livelihoods. However, strict patriarchal norms restricted the visibility, mobility, and communication of women within the household and community during the interventions. Considering gender diversity, this study identifies that women can benefit from participating in watershed interventions and provides a deeper understanding of the constraints and barriers to women’s participation in such projects, including economic, social, and cultural factors. The construction of check dams reduced women’s time per day for fetching water by about 29%. Groundwater level increases reduced the effort required of women to draw water from open wells and hand pumps. Female education is a significant factor related to the benefits of watershed interventions, and regression analysis indicated that households with higher levels of education of adult women were significantly more likely to benefit from the interventions than other households. To avoid perpetuation of the exclusion of diverse local knowledge and gender inequality at the community level, mechanisms must be developed and adjusted continuously such that whole communities, including men and women, are empowered to participate in the decision-making process at various levels and for different purposes. When implementing watershed projects in a highly patriarchal context, as in the Bundelkhand region where women are hidden behind the strong presence of men, advocacy of behavioral change communication must be implemented regularly. The community needs to be sensitized toward systematic and gendersensitive institution building, social engagement, and capacity development for local as well as global water security.

Item Type: Article
Divisions: Research Program : Innovation Systems for the Drylands (ISD)
CRP: CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Bundelkhand region, Gender, Social norms, Transformative, Watershed intervention
Subjects: Others > Watershed Management
Others > Gender Research
Depositing User: Mr Arun S
Date Deposited: 13 Mar 2020 11:05
Last Modified: 13 Mar 2020 11:07
Official URL:
Acknowledgement: The authors acknowledge support from the CGIAR Research Program on Water Land and Ecosystems (CRP-WLE) for implementing this study in the Parasai-Sindh watershed region. The authors are thankful to Dr. Sreenath Dixit and the IDC team at ICRISAT for their support. A special thanks to all the partners who are involved in this watershed project since its inception, including the staff of CAFRI. The authors are also thankful for the constructive comments by the journal reviewers. The participation and support by the men and women in the study region who volunteered to be interviewed is greatly valued.
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