Watershed Project Planning: Type, Process, Data Required.


Planning is preparing a sequence of action, and steps to achieve some specific goal. It is a long-term decision for the future consisting of a cluster of programs of what an organization or country wants to achieve over a period of time. Generally, planning is approached at the country level, which is also termed national level planning. Planning is also be done at the regional and corporate /organization levels.

Planning is:

• a process of finding alternative solutions to a problem
• a process deeply concerned with collective decision-making to achieve goals
• a process that responds to the needs of a society
• a process-oriented predominantly towards the future
• a process of formulating comprehensive policies and programs.

For integrated watershed management, three levels of planning has been
identified by the department of soil conservation and watershed management. They

Reconnaissance level planning:

It is very general or board planning. various
possibilities and priorities are determined by acquiring general and qualitative
information. This is done at national/regional levels for the period of 10 to 25
years. This level of planning is a kind of project proposal.

Semi-detail level planning:

This is somehow specific. In this planning, some semi-quantitative and semi-qualitative information about the district or watershed is collected. In this planning, project feasibility and prioritization of the district or watershed are made. Planning is usually done for 5 to 10 years. It also involves prioritization programs for implementation.

Detail-level planning:

In this planning process, very specific information both qualitative and quantitative is collected. Based on the detailed information, the watershed/sub-watershed is prioritized. Possibility of the project examined and Project formulation will also be done at this level for the period of 1 to 5 years.

The feasibility assessment and formulation of site-specific programs with detailed
technical and cost-benefit analysis for implementation is termed as detail level.
Parametric land evaluation is needed.

The procedure of watershed project planning:

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Problem identification

A problem is simply the difference between what we have and what we want. Problem-based planning is to analyze the gaps between the objective set and the situation that we have and explore and select the best options to implement in order to fill the gaps.

Establishment of objectives

Before collecting information on watersheds, it is necessary to ask where we want
to go ? and what we want to achieve. After having these questions in mind we
need to set objectives.

Objectives may be of two types:

  1. General objective: This contains very general statements such as To increase the productivity of the watershed through retarding the rate of degradation of watershed resources.

2. Specific objectives: It contains very specific statements, for example :

  1. To conserve soil or water or forest
  2. To improve water yield
  3. To make local people aware of watershed
  4. To enhance the socio-economic status of local people.

Data collection:

After setting objectives, we need to collect information and data on watershed in line with the given objectives, the objectives reflect what kind of information and data we need to collect.

While collecting data, the following questions should be kept in mind for collecting problem-oriented information.

  1. Where is the area?
  2. What do we know?
  3. What information or data needs to be collected?
  4. How information or data is collected?
  5. How reliable is information or data collected?
  6. Are there any gaps in information or data?
  7. Data or information related to what aspects?

For the preparation of a sound watershed management plan, we need to collect the following data or information on focused watersheds:

  1. Physiographic data: this includes location, elevation, area, soil, aspects, geology, landforms, land capability, slopes, erosion potential, and watershed condition.
  2. Biophysical data: this includes forest types, use and condition, agriculture and cropping pattern, crop yield, livestock, biodiversity
  3. Land use data: area of forest land, agriculture land, barren land, range/grazing land, wasteland, water bodies, etc.
  4. Climatic/hydrological data: rainfall, temperature, humidity, snow, wind, evapotranspiration, floods sediments stream flow, drainage pattern, etc.
  5. Socio-economic data: population, average income, source of income, occupation, employment opportunities, sex ratio, age structure, rate of population growth, migration, literacy, fertility and mortality rates, health, community structure, institutions, social behavior, family pattern, religious, culture, etc.
  6. Economic and market factors: land tenure pattern, marketing, the pattern of cultivation, farming practices, labor, transport system, infrastructures, etc.
  7. Management-related data: watershed problem, environmental problem, land management problem, shifting cultivation, forest destruction, shortage of forest products, fire, overgrazing, uncontrolled mining and quarrying, technical problems, etc.

Problem analysis

Here the collected data are then compiled and analyzed. Analysis varies as area and
objective change. skilled manpower is required to make realistic and appropriate

• Where are we?
• What is the data trying to tell us?
• What does it mean to us?
• What do we have work with?
• What can we do?

Based on the analyzed data, problems in their respective fields are identified. it is then further assessed whether these problems can be solved realistically or not. Based on this assessment, preliminary objectives may need to be changed accordingly
whole steps may need to be revised, till a SMART objective is reached i.e

Specific: The objective must be clearly defined. Do we mean exactly what we say?
• Measurable: The progress must be measurable.
• Attainable: The objective must be achievable. Ask do we have the resources and manpower to fulfill the objective.
Realistic: Whether the objective can be fulfilled?
Time-bound: Can we achieve the objective within the time frame?

Based on this assessment, objectives may be changed and, steps may
be revised, till optional situations are reached.

Plan formulation

based on the problem analyzed, a plan is formulated to fulfill the given objectives under the given resources and constraints. Plan formulation involves:

i. assessment and spatial scheduling of work program;
ii. organization.
iii. budgeting and
iv. benefit assessment

Once the plan is formulated, thus the prepared plan should be reviewed under the following

• Is it technically possible?
• Is it economically feasible?
• Is it politically acceptable?
• Is it administrative practical?
• Is it socially desirable?

Work on plan formulation often indicates the need for additional information. Therefore, continuous feedback among phases is a common prerequisite in the planning process.

Plan implementation, monitoring, and evaluation

The prepared plan is then implemented to achieve the desired objectives. Experience gained with implementation should apply to the plan modification and improvement of its procedure with the help of monitoring and evaluation.

Monitoring is the routine periodic measurement of programming inputs, activities, and outputs undertaken during program implementation.

The main objective of monitoring is:

To check if work is proceeding according to to set targets and record this data in a systematic way so that it will allow controlling project activities to achieve given goals.

Evaluation is an analysis of program inputs, activities, and their impact against explicitly stated norms and objectives. The main objectives of the evaluation

• To check project achievements and impact.
• To check the assumption that whether project inputs and objectives are achieved
or not.
• To help management in making decisions about follow-up projects or activities.

Monitoring and evaluation are essential parts of planning to improve the planning process.

Yasmin Chaudhary
Yasmin Chaudhary

Conservationists, Bsc forestry, Bsc

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