The Power of Agency: Evidence from a Participatory Agricultural Transformation

Participatory development emphasizes a bottom-up approach focusing on community control over planning and implementation decisions to improve development outcomes. We propose to assess the value of community participation in the location choice and implementation of climate-adaptative local infrastructure projects by comparing a participatory bottom-up approach to the standard top-down approach. The context for the study is the construction of irrigation channels in the command area of minor irrigation tanks in India. These structures are ecologically sustainable, more cost-effective relative to large-scale dams, and serve the twin purpose of providing surface water for irrigation as well as recharge groundwater aquifers. The research project varies the extent of community involvement over the choice and implementation of field channels to assess its impact on the allocation of water for irrigation, sustainable use of irrigation resources, agricultural outcomes, and maintenance of the channels. Given that the consequences of climate change are felt more locally, we seek to understand the costs and benefits of a decentralized approach relative to a centralized one in the context of implementing projects focused on climate adaptation. We expect the findings to inform state policy on continued maintenance of such resources and how best to support local communities in achieving this objective in a cost-effective manner.

RFP Cycle:
Spring 2021
  • Full project