Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Elinor Ostrom RIP

Obituary by Barkley Rosser. A passage:
" organized by the people who use the resources work better than ones imposed by outsiders. The classic case involves the forests of Nepal since WW II, a case emphasized by Ostrom. The forests ended up in basically three different kinds of systems. Some of them owned by corporations, influence from the British Raj, some of them were in state-owned and controlled systems from various socialist governments, and about a third remained in the hands of local groups managed in traditional ways. Today, most of the first two are gone, over-harvested and deforested. What is left of the forests of Nepal are those where the local traditional managers were able to keep on keeping on."
A recent message from Elinor Ostrom Greens from the Grassroots
A recent story from India How to make a forest:
"A teacher in the village intermediate school, Bharati had cut his teeth as a young volunteer in the Chipko movement of the 1970s, hanging around environmentalist Chandi Prasad Bhatt. He was well known in the neighbourhood for rallying the villagers of the area against a government logging permit in 1982 to fell the forests that sustained them. His efforts were non-violent and successful: the government had to rescind the logging permit. But the forests were degraded because rain, which was plentiful, ran off the slopes into distant valleys, eroding the soil along the way. The rainwater had to be retained on the slopes.

But there were no accounts to be found of building khaals and chaals to catch the gushing runoff. Bharati decided to experiment with designs and sites in 1993. The hill folk knew their terrain, knew terraced farms and thought, as Bharati found, in three dimensions, unlike the plainspeople. But the water scarcity and the degraded forests had made livelihoods impossible, and the villages were bereft of men, who had gone ‘down’ in search of employment.
Bharati began talking to the women who were left behind. In the first year, they built a chaal on a monsoonal channel that had dried up. After the next monsoon, it retained water longer, the surrounding soil remained moist, the forest looked healthier. Over the next five years, Bharati’s Doodhatoli Lok Vikas Sansthan built several chaals in Ufrainkhaal and neighbouring villages, improving their design through trial.
They had broken free of the vicious cycle of drought/flood—more water meant the forests were getting more dense, which in turn retained even more water.
Bharati and his colleagues have steadfastly rejected the trappings of a formal organisation. They don’t issue press releases or seek publicity, they do not demand development funding. In fact, they once refused an FAO offer of a grant of Rs 1 crore. The villagers here know a healthy forest is essential to survive, and they revel in being its protectors. When the government offered a watershed development project, Bharati politely refused."
P.S. Previous posts on Elinor Ostrom

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