Participatory Watershed Research and Management: Where the shadow falls
The participatory, integrated watershed project has burst upon the development scene over the past years as a holistic way to address many of the agricultural and natural resource challenges raised in Agenda 21. As a result, dozens of people-oriented research and development projects have been implemented throughout the world. Concerns of conventional watershed projects are addressed with a participatory component which assigns equal weight to people's perceptions and needs along with hydrological and other biophysical processes. However, despite the powerful logic behind such an approach, there is some concern that the rhetoric is not living up to practical accomplishments. This paper, while arguing in favour of the new paradigm, makes an argument that now is the time to address potential pitfalls in the conceptualisation and operationalisation of such projects. Eight 'landmines' are listed and discussed.The paper closes with a call for urgent steps to be taken before these landmines consign participatory multipurpose watershed projects to the graveyard of other development 'white elephants'. The challenge is to convene soon to share experiences, learn from our mistakes, and provide hard-hitting assessments of lessons learned.