This paper discusses the development of a participative approach to watershed management in PIDOW, a collaborative programme involving the NGO MYRADA in India. It notes that an areas surveyed by RRA was ecologically degraded and weak in institutions and skills. This led to calls for assisting in design and building of local institutions to manage watershed resources. Effective participation in watershed management requires that the area considered is neither too large nor too small, and that management is decentralised to village groups. PIDOW also emphasises integration of forestry programmes, animal husbandry practices, and credit programmes with soil and water management at the watershed level. This paper explores and explains the rationale for the development of the PIDOW approach.