Participation has become a basic principle of Watershed Management since it has been recognised that without participation of the beneficiaries of project activities the endeavours often failed . The participation of the population, however, may
- create interest in the process and motivation for the intended activities;
- increase the prospect of institutional and environmental sustainability of the project;
- result in acceptance of responsibility by the population;
- enhance the building and strengthening of democratic structures .
Participation can take different forms and varying degrees (see figure) . As IWM builds on participation, it is, furthermore suitable for providing a framework for the utilisation of traditional social structures and traditional knowledge for development .
Participation may sometimes difficult to put into practice as it implies changes in decision making processes that are deeply rooted within societies . However, this may not impede genuine efforts to involve population. Several participative methods such as Participatory Rapid Appraisal (PRA) are available therefore.
The local population plays a major role, but is not the only actor or have the sole responsibility for natural resources. Rather, the key to success is the interplay between local population, local organisations and the state . Economical interests and opportunities of the resource users are always taken into consideration and tried to improve. Participation of the stakeholders is especially crucial in selection and implementation as well as maintenance of soil and water conservation measures which are topic of the following pages.