Rescaling drought mitigation in rural Sri Lanka
Smallholder farmers with limited governmental and institutional support often devise innovative strategies to mitigate the impacts of water stress on agricultural production. These drought mitigation strategies can be more culturally and ecologically suitable than top-down, “technocratic,” strategies. Top-down drought mitigation approaches, however, often link farmers with significant infrastructures, financial resources, and specialized knowledge. Successful rescaling of localized mitigation practices can integrate the benefits of localized mitigation with resources available at larger scales. This paper describes the rescaling of a Sri Lankan drought mitigation practice known as bethma. We focus on the process of rescaling, specifically what is lost and gained when this local practice is implemented at a much larger scale. We identify factors driving participation in bethma and the impacts of this participation on farmer livelihoods. Results suggest that participation in bethma during water-scarce seasons has significant positive impacts on agricultural yields, but that this participation is strongly influenced by the nature of a farmer’s land ownership. Much of the success of bethma’s implementation is due to the decentralized, flexible implementation at a regional scale. The loss of localized information, however, influences farmer participation in the practices and the distribution of the benefits associated with bethma.
KeywordsDrought Mitigation Scale Agriculture Bethma Sri Lanka
We thank the anonymous reviewers for helpful suggestions that improved the paper. We would also like to thank our research assistants, Dilini Abeysekara, Ramesh Ranaweera, and Brindharshini Thiyagaraja, as well as Malaka Dhamruwan for his help in coordinating the research. Thank you to Josh Bazuin for constructive feedback.
The US National Science Foundation Water, Sustainability, and Climate grant EAR-1204685 funded this research. Dr. Burchfield thanks the American Institute for Sri Lankan studies for a Dissertation Travel Grant which funded travel to collect qualitative data.
- Abeyratne S, Perera J (1986) Change and continuity in village irrigation system: a case study in the Moneragala district, Sri Lanka. Retrieved from http://harti.nsf.ac.lk/handle/1/2267.
- Agrawal A, Perrin N (2009) Climate adaptation, local institutions and rural livelihoods. In: Adger WN, I L, O’Brien K (eds) Adapting to climate change: thresholds, values, governance. School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan. International Forestry Resources and Institutions Program, IFRI. Working Paper, W081-6, pp 350–67Google Scholar
- Berkes F, Jolly D (2002) Adapting to climate change: social-ecological resilience in a Canadian western arctic community. Ecol Soc 5(2):8Google Scholar
- Burchfield EK, Gilligan JM (2016b) Dynamics of individual and collective agricultural adaptation to water scarcity. In Winter Simulation Conference (WSC), pp 1678–1689. IEEE Retrieved from http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/7822216/
- Burchfield EK, Tozier de la Poterie A (2018) Determinants of crop diversification in rice-dominated Sri Lankan agricultural systems. J Rural Stud. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jrurstud.2018.05.010
- Cash D, Adger WN, Berkes F, Garden P, Lebel L, Olsson P, Pritchard L, & Young O. (2006). Scale and cross-scale dynamics: governance and information in a multilevel world. Ecology and society, 11(2).Google Scholar
- Chambers R (1988) Managing canal irrigation: practical analysis from South Asia. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
- Chandrasiri JKMD, Baminiarachchi BADS (2015) Reasons for low adoption of selected OFC and vegetable varieties released by the Department of Agriculture (No. 182). Reasons for low adoption of selected OFC and vegetable varieties released by the Department of Agriculture. Retrieved from http://www.harti.gov.lk/images/download/reasearch_report/2016/182.pdf
- Eakin H, Tucker CM, Castellanos E, Diaz-Porras R, Barrera JF, Morales H (2013) Adaptation in a multi-stressor environment: perceptions and responses to climatic and economic risks by coffee growers in Mesoamerica. Environ Dev Sustain 16(1):123–139. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10668-013-9466-9 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Gelman A, Hill J (2007) Data analysis using regression and multilevel/hierarchical models. Cambridge University PressGoogle Scholar
- Imbulana KAUS, Wijesekera NTS, Neupane BR (2006) Sri Lanka National Water Development Report. Government of Sri LankaGoogle Scholar
- Jinapala K, De Silva S, Aheeyar MMM, Needs D, Management W (2010) Volume 3: Policies, Institutions and Data Needs for Water Management. In National Conference on Water, Food Security and Climate Change in Sri Lanka (Vol. 3). Colombo, Sri Lanka: International Water Management InstituteGoogle Scholar
- Mahaweli Authority of Sri Lanka (2011) Statistical Handbook. Retrieved from http://mahaweli.gov.lk/en/statistics.html#
- Manthrithilake H, Liyanagama B (2012) Simulation model for participatory decision making: water allocation policy implementation in Sri Lanka. Water International, pp 37–41Google Scholar
- Nakashima DJ, McLeanKG, Thulstrup HD, Castillo AR, Rubis JT (2012) Weathering uncertainty: traditional knowledge for climate change assessment and adaptation. Paris and Darwin: UNESCO and UNUGoogle Scholar
- Panabokke CR, Sakthivadivel R, Weerasinghe AD (2002) Small tanks in Sri Lanka: evolution, present status, and issues. International Water Management Institute, ColomboGoogle Scholar
- Termeer CJ, Dewulf A, van Lieshout M (2010) Disentangling scale approaches in governance research: comparing monocentric, multilevel, and adaptive governance. Retrieved from http://repository.ubn.ru.nl/handle/2066/151894
- Thiruchelvam S (2010) Agricultural production efficiency of Bethma cultivation in Mahaweli System H. Sri Lankan Journal of Agricultural Economics, 7. Retrieved from http://sjae.sljol.info/articles/10.4038/sjae.v7i0.1820/
- Valdivia C, Seth A, Gilles JL, García M, Jiménez E, Cusicanqui J, Navia F, Yucra E (2010) Adapting to climate change in Andean ecosystems: landscapes, capitals, and perceptions shaping rural livelihood strategies and linking knowledge systems. Ann Assoc Am Geogr 100(4):818–834. https://doi.org/10.1080/00045608.2010.500198 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Wilhite DA, Vanyarkho OV (2000) Drought: pervasive impacts of a creeping phenomenon. Retrieved from http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/droughtfacpub/71/
- Wolf AT (2007). Shared waters: Conflict and cooperation. Annu. Rev. Environ. Resour., 32, 241-269.Google Scholar
- World Food Programme (2014) Drought: food security and livelihoods affected by erratic weather. Retrieved from https://www.wfp.org/sites/default/files/L-Joint%20Assessment%20of%20Drought%20Impact%20on%20Food%20Security%20and%20Livelihoods_fi....pdf