Department of Social Policy & Social Works
“Pedalling out of Poverty: Social Taxonomy, Socio-Economic Heterogeneity
and Distributional Implication of Irrigation Development in
2. Background and Research Problem
3. Literature Review: Poverty-Irrigation Nexus
The relationship between poverty reduction and irrigational development has become a topical issue amongst academics and policy makers alike. A ministerial Bonn Conference on fresh water management declared that, “combating poverty is the main challenge for achieving equitable and sustainable development and irrigation water plays a vital role in relation to human health, livelihoods, economic growth as well as sustaining ecosystems" (Reba, 2003). There is a general consensus that irrigation development particularly in agricultural countries help reduce poverty significantly (Fan et.al, 1999; Ravallion and Datt, 1996; Mellor, 2001; Desai, 2002).
1. The caste structure is based on the Hindu
2. There is a considerable debate in defining dalits. For Bharati (2002 p3) dalit is not a caste in itself, but groups of castes being exploited by existing social and economic traditions. Schultz (2003), refers dalits as untouchables; Gurung (2004, p3) synonymies dalits with untouchables, low-castes, harijans, schedule castes and, oppressed; while for Rasali (2005) dalits are Karmajans (traditional occupational castes) suffering socio-economic and political suppressions emanating from orthodoxy Hindu religion.
The untouchable occupational caste group includes Damai,
Kami, Sharki, Chamar, Pode, Satar,
etc. People from other castes and ethnic groups do not eat food and water
touched by them. In the recent days they
are called ‘Dalit’. ‘Dalit’
is a more respected word used to recognise the untouchable groups in
Considerable work done in the last five
decades in Asia and else where have shown that the multitude of tangible
positive externalities associated with irrigation development are considered to
be the most potent source of higher farm incomes and hence it is the driving
force for poverty reduction (Mellor, 2001; Sakthivadivel
et.al, 2002). Bhattarai et.al. (2003) in their study of poverty reduction
in India concluded that agricultural output and irrigational development
coupled with enhanced literacy rate contributed towards poverty reduction. They further go onto argue that, poverty
reduction in rural
The direct benefits of irrigational development operate at local and households level with higher production, higher crop yields, reduce risk of crop failure, all year-round and non-farm employment opportunities and food security. Globally, 17 per cent of global irrigated land contributes to about 40 per cent of world cereal production (Lipton, et.al., 2002). In the last half a century, global irrigated land has increased by about 250 per cent reaching to 266 million hectors by 1997 (FAO, 2000). Furthermore, crop diversification, cropping intensification and shifts from subsistence to commercial cropping is likely to help poorer households by reducing food prices (Hussain and Hanjra, 2004). Writing on Indian irrigation systems, Dahawan and Datta, (1992) posit that, in the irrigated rural settings up to 3 crops a year can be grown as compared to just a single crop in a year in the rainfed settings. Indirectly, irrigation development acts as production and supply shifter and help boost aggregate growth where, both rich and poor households benefits however, later in the long run rather than in short run, a form of Kuznet curve (Kuznet, 1955).
Drawing macro level data, Lipton et al.
(2002) compared the prevalence of poverty and amount of land irrigated in Africa
On the production side of poverty-irrigation relationship, irrigation development creates localised demands for both farm and off-farm income generating economic activities indirectly. A study by Liedholm and Meade (1987) concluded that due to the spill over effects of expanding agricultural activities non-farm employment opportunities expand readily. It is well established that, due to the prominent of agricultural sector and adaptation of green revolution in low income countries agricultural growth rate of 4-6 per cent adds immense purchasing power (Mellor, 1995).
Angood et.al. (2002) presented a case study of three
Farmers Managed Irrigation (FMI) schemes in
However, research on the relationship between irrigation and poverty involves aggregate macro level analysis. Furthermore, although much work has been done in relation to the implications of local level socio-economic heterogeneities on forest management (Adhikari, 2003; Luintel, 2003), very little work has been done in irrigation development. The growth aspects of irrigation are well accepted. Despite the close inter linkages between irrigation development and poverty reduction there is still a considerable polarisation on equity dimension. Head and tail inequity, also know as upstream-down stream inequity has been well documented (Hussain, 2004). A growing body of literature argues that growth can lead to a skewed income distribution raising questions about the anti-poverty strength of irrigation development (Fields, 1989; Squire, 1993; Lipton and Ravallion, 1995; Ravallion, 1995). Sceptics argue that it is naïve to assume that irrigation development is distribution neutral. Also, since the distribution of irrigation water is land based, irrigation development is inherently biased against the landless and land poor. In his synthesis studies of 307 irrigational systems during 1970-89, Freebairn (1995) found that both inter-farm and interregional inequalities widened in 80 of the studies. However, these studies suffered from fundamentally methodological sampling errors (Hussain, 2004). Banik et al. (2003) in their study of natural resource endowments and poverty in a tribal belt of Chhotanagpur Plateau (India) demonstrated a significant differences in the benefits accruing to higher landholding households from higher social strata as compared to those from lower caste affiliations (Banik et al, 2003).
4. Policy Relevance
4.1 Relevance to Irrigational Development
Irrigational development is of special interests for a pre-dominantly agricultural country like Nepal where almost one-fifth i.e about 18 per cent of its total land area is utilised for agriculture (CARE-Nepal, 2001; CBS, 2004) and more than 76 per cent of the total population are engaged in agriculture for their livelihoods (Economic Survey, 2001/02) contributing to up to 40 percent of national GDP (Adhikari, 2001). Also, Nepal is the second richest country, only second to Brazil in the world in terms of its potential water resources with possession of about 2.27 per cent of the world water resources potential (CBS, 1999). A country report for Nepal’s environmental statistics note that, altogether Nepal Comprises of about six thousand rivers having about 45 thousand kilometres in length (Kharel and Suwal,2001). However, despite being water-wealthy and having 30 per cent (14-17 per cent in 1997, in Pant, 2003), irrigation-based agricultural production, only 54 per cent (42 per cent in 1995/96) of the net cultivated land has access to some form of irrigation (NLSS, 2004 p3), while just 41 percent of the irrigated land receives year –around irrigation (Mishra and Bhattarai, no date).
4.2 Relevance to Poverty Reduction
4.3 Relevance to Equity in Natural Resource Distribution
relations are semi-feudal and capitalistic in nature where, land endowments are
concentrated amongst rich peasants and landlords (SAAPE, 2004). Furthermore,
unequal cultivable land and access to productive resources have reinforced
towards high poverty level and continuation of semi-feudal and capitalism. Latest figures from Nepal Living Standard
Survey indicate that a vast majority of the agricultural household rely on
subsistence farming from small farms. About 45 per cent of small farmers
operate in less than 0.5 ha of land, occupying 13 per cent of agricultural land
while 8 percent of large farmers operate in 2 ha or more of land, occupying
about 31 per cent of total agricultural land (NLSS, 2004 p 4). The concentration index for agricultural land is
0.50 (0.54 in 1997) reflecting a highly uneven distribution of land resource in
A vast majority of poor, landless and land-poor, undertake agricultural activities for their own consumption purposes and for landlords. In doing so, a significant proportion of agricultural households (about 28 per cent of which, 7 per cent are landless and 21 per cent operate in rented- land) work on crop share basis also known as adhiya (a system in which the total production is equally divided between farmers and landlords) or tyahu (a system in which, landlord and the farmer share two-third, and one third of the total production respectively) or some type of contractual basis (NLSS, 2004). However, in both adhiya and tyahu systems, production costs such as labour costs, cost of manures and so on are borne by the farmers themselves without any contribution from the concerned landlords. According to census 2001, about 25 per cent of the households are considered to be agricultural landless (with no land or owning less two ropanies of land). Landlessness is more acute among the Dalits, as out of all absolutely landless, 22 per cent are Dalits (Basnet, 2004). Amongst the Dalits, average landholding per household is 2.46 ropanies of khet (irrigated land) and 4.5 ropanies of pakho land (semi arid and rainfed land respectively). This has a major implication for food security. It is reported that more than 50 per cent of the Dalits have food deficiency (Dahal et.al, 2002).
Sharma et.al (1994) in their study of socio-economic status of
dalits and indigenous tribes in
5. Aims and Objectives
The main objective of this study is to investigate
the local level socio-economic heterogeneity and social taxonomical settings, their
determinants and their impacts on use of the natural resources. It will shed
light on how the caste system and social exclusions shape the individual’s
action and expectations and their use of natural resources and its implication
on equity, efficiency and sustainability of the irrigation system in
1) To examine the determinants of local social taxonomical stratification and irrigational management institutions and analyse their impacts on the effectiveness and sustainability of irrigational resources at the local level
2) To analyse the economic consequences and thus equity and distributional aspects of irrigation management regimes
3) To examine the potential barriers for rural poverty reduction and to assess whether there is significant relationships between local level heterogeneity and emergence of poverty reduction through irrigation development
4) To draw conclusion about socio-economic impacts and livelihoods implications of irrigational management on different stakeholder groups in which it is implemented
6. Research Questions
This study seeks to understand how
institutionalised social differentiation can result in inefficient use,
inequitable allocation, and unsustainable use of irrigation canal water in
1) What are the institutional mechanisms that govern the access to and use of irrigation water resources?
2) What are the determinants of local management institutions? How institutions affect successful irrigation outcomes in terms of poverty alleviation?
3) What are local economic consequences (equity and distributional issues) of irrigational canal at local level?
4) Does local level heterogeneity (physical attributes of resource and both economic and social heterogeneity among resource users) obstruct the evolution of productive and egalitarian institutional arrangements at the community level?
5) What are the additional institutional options that ensure increasing access of the landless, land-poor and dalits community members to local irrigation resources that ensure equitable and efficient irrigation management outcomes at the local level?
7.1 Theoretical Framework of Analysis
The basic purpose of
this study is to understand the impacts of socio-economic heterogeneity, and
existing aged-old caste system, and the ways these factors influence in
defining property rights, and formation of local level institution for
irrigation water management in Nepalese context. Both irrigation water and
infrastructures are common pool resources, due to their low excludability and a
high rivalry nature and demonstrate higher probability of over-exploitation and
inequitable resource distributions (Cheung, 1970; Theesfeld,
2001, Adhikari, 2003, Datta,
2001). The occurrences of the later case, however, are due to existing
heterogeneity amongst user groups, lack of appropriate institutional
arrangement, and absence of well defined property rights for using common pool
resources (Adhikari, 2003). In this research, the
methodological approach utilises insights from new institutionalism and
theoretical and empirical literature from new institutional economics and developmental
studies that underscore the role of formal and informal institution for natural
resource management. The perspective on
institutions adopted here follows the approach of North (1990) who defines
institutions as humanly devised constraints
that shape human interaction that ultimately affects the performance of economy
by their effects on the costs of exchange and production. In the Context of
irrigation development in
7.2 Site Selection
We will select three Village
Development Committees (VDCs), namely Bhalayakharka, Chakratirtha and Dhamileekuwa VDCs, from
South-eastern part of Lamjung district,
7.3 Field Research Activities
The first phases of research will consist of the following activities;
· Literature review will be undertaken on empirical studies of group heterogeneity, institutions and irrigation resource management.
· Household structural questionnaire survey will be prepared, and research design will be conceptualised
· Planning and arrangement of the field study
A visit to
· Three research assistants preferably a resource economist, a political scientists and a dalit intellectual will be recruited for the duration of about three months. The recruited local researchers along with the principle investigator with guidance of PI’s academic supervisor(s) will design samples and household survey
· Collect primary and secondary data.
any specific research material from
· Formal and informal discussions with government official, international conservation organization and local NGOs working on irrigation development
· Final field visit planning and preparation
A total period of 20 weeks is allocated for field visit which will be made by both principal investigator and research assistants.
· A round table discussion with the members of water users’ associations, irrigation management committees, and Village Development Committee members will be held to understand key issues related with the Rainastar irrigation project.
· Wealth raking exercise will be carried out to identify the factors, which the community defines as important in the categorisation of the socio-economic position of households, and to assign individual households to ranks identified. All user households will be divided into three different stakeholder groups: Poorer households, middle wealth families, and richer/wealthier households derived from household incomes, land holdings and caste ranks.
· The sample households will be stratified on the basis of wealth ranking. A minimum sample of 20 per cent of households in each stakeholders will be sampled
· The questionnaire will be pre-tested before the main survey with small focus groups to discuss their reactions to questionnaire prior to detail survey
· Administer household survey
about four weeks will be spent in
· Share the initial findings with knowledgeable local experts
· Complete informal visit and discussion that was incomplete before field visits
Gather remaining secondary information from
7.4 Data Analysis and Final Report Preparation
Upon return to the
· Prepare summary of the household and community survey data
· Undertake a more rigorous regression analysis to analysis, to test for the significance of individual household characteristics and income distribution
· Econometric analysis of determinants and impact of local irrigation management regimes
· Write up a final report presenting research findings
· Submit the final report
8. Expected Outcomes and Policy Recommendations
This research will add knowledge on how
social taxonomy (caste system) and socio-economic heterogeneity influence the
efficiency in resource use, equity of resource distribution, empowerment and
welfare of community members. This will have major implications upon poverty
reduction strategies through the development of irrigation systems.
Furthermore, this study will recommend future policy directions for equitable
irrigation development capable of optimising welfare of poor people whose
livelihoods directly or indirectly depends on agricultural activities. It is expected that, the major output of this
research will be on equity aspects and distributional implication of irrigation
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1 hector== 19.66 ropani
1 muri paddy= 50 kg
1 Ropani= 16 aana
1 muri maize= 65kg
1 hectare= 1.1477 bigha
1 muri wheat= 65kg
1 hector= 30 katha (approx)
1 muri= 20 pathi
1 bigha= 20 katha
1 bigha=400 dhur
Source: (CBS 2000)
In this paper, poverty threshold is taken as population living with income under one US-Dollar a day which is also UNDP measure of absolute poverty.