LTRA-11: CAPS among tribal societies in India and Nepal

Principal investigator

Catherine Chan-Halbrendt, professor and chair of the Department of Natural Resource and Environmental Management, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, University of Hawaii at Manoa

Research team

  • Travis W. Idol, associate professor of natural resources and environmental management, University of Hawaii at Manoa
  • Chittaranjan Ray, professor of civil and environmental engineering and researcher, Water Resources Research Center, University of Hawaii at Manoa


Traditional agriculture in tribal and ethnic agricultural societies in India and Nepal is increasingly relegated to less productive land, often on steep slopes, resulting in lower productivity, degradation of soil and water resources, impairment of health, and loss of livelihood options.

Particularly affected are the smallholder tribal communities of the Kalahandi-Balangir-Koraput regions of Orissa state, India, and the Arun River Valley and Trishuli watershed of Nepal. Environmental degradation has driven these tribal and ethnic communities engaged in subsistence agriculture into severe malnutrition and loss of livelihood options.

This project will apply a participatory agroecological framework to prioritize local resource use preferences, develop improved conservation practices, and identify market opportunities to enhance livelihood options. It will identify spaces of opportunities as well as structural barriers to women’s participation in sustainable agricultural production to ensure that the project’s recommendations stay relevant to tribal women’s realities. Results will be documented in baseline surveys and follow-up evaluations of conservation practices, with particular attention to women’s participation in management and decision making.

University of Hawaii faculty will collaborate with local non-governmental organizations, including Agragamee in India and the Local Initiatives for Biodiversity, Research and Development (LI-BIRD) in Nepal. The project will also partner with Orissa University of Agricultural Technology in India and the Institute of Agriculture and Animal Science (IAAS) of Tribhuvan University in Nepal.