Session FT 4.19
Effective use of irrigation water through participatory irrigation management
Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC)
International Network on Participatory Irrigation Management (INPIM)
National Association of Irrigation Users (ANUR)
Participatory Irrigation Management (PIM) where farmer organizations take over operation and maintenance (O&M) is a common arrangement in which water user associations can improve management efficiency by direct involvement in planning and O&M. The key element is an establishment of efficient mechanism to promote PIM in an effective manner. In this session, we will discuss the experiences and lessons of PIM based on the local actions regarding PIM approaches in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India and Mexico.
Poor involvement of farmers, lack of incentives
The existing projects have been implemented by limited people concerned (front line officers, contractors and leaders of farmers organization), without relation to the beneficiaries (farmers). Accordingly, farmers’ attitudes on O&M activities were becoming passive and leading to increased dependence on the external organizations. Their negative attitudes have weakened farmers’ organizations. Farmers’ prior agreement to the project and OM activities, after the extensive discussion with the administration is a key factor for the sustainability of irrigation projects.
Poor experience on participatory approach.
Actual activities at the field levels of these projects have been carried out by a “top down” system, apart from its concept. Front line officers of the executing agencies, who contact directly with farmers, have only theoretical knowledge and have no practical experience and/or misunderstand the true concept of the participatory approach. The project is only successful with rapid realization of real benefits for farmers. Provision of proper incentives to farmers is most important for PIM.
The countries that are involved with the transfer process should consider Mexico’s experience as they have completed up to 99% of their process, covering over 3.4 million hectares. Mexico’s conclusions based on their experiences and provided to the 4Th World Water Forum are:
- There should not be association of users with small amounts of land.
- The associations should include members from all farm sectors to be elected as board members of the association.
- The board member seats should alternate with members from the different farm sectors, and should be non-political.
- The qualifications for these board members should be established and they must receive formal training prior to taking office.
- They should have the equipment and machinery necessary to accomplish the O&M and the modernization of their irrigation district.
- The establishment of programs geared toward the consolidation of the transfer process were the federal, state and local governments participate with the associations in the investment process of the O&M and the modernization of the irrigation districts.
- Allow private investment in the modernization process.
- Community-driven Development Approach is a main measure for raising Ownership of Farmers
- Provision of proper incentives to farmers is most important for the government.
Orientations for Action
- Not only the farmers but also the government should be changed for PIM
There are many projects having a term of “Participatory” in the project name, however not all those projects understand and follow the concept of “Participatory”. In one of the sessions, it is observed that the framework of the government or executive body does not match to implementation of PIM project. It is emphasized that introduction of the bottom-up approach often means restructuring the decision making system in a bureaucratic organization. Not only the farmers but also the governmental agency should be changed also for successful implementation of PIM.
- Formulation/strengthening of International-wide Sharing Information System of PIM
Approach for PIM is still being developed and there is no common and fixed way to success. And also detail approaches of Participatory Irrigation Management should be varied depending on its circumstance and cultural background of the community. Thus information of PIM, such as successful method, lessons learned and other actual experiences on each circumstance should be accumulated and shared mutually. It is recommended that such information sharing system and opportunity of exchanging opinions at international level, like our session in WWF4, should be established stably by benchmarking so that successes can be understood and emulated.
- Establishment of National Water Management Regulation
How to maintain the discipline in an organization and how to reduce the number of the free riders is a key of sustainable management activity. It is often observed that a matured community tends to grow and keep discipline due to their custom of mutual aid without national regulation of the water users’ organization. In some case, however, establishment of national regulation may facilitate sustainable participatory irrigation management.
Local Actions presented
Participatory Irrigation Management in Indonesia: Lessons Learned from Decentralized Irrigation System Improvement Project in Indonesia
For more than 15 years, SSIMP project has been promoting water resources and irrigation development in Eastern Indonesia with the ODA loan of JBIC. A key factor of successful implementation and sustainability of the project is Site oriented Approach, which is to contemplate actual situation of the project target site and implement the needs from the site flexibly based on accumulated experience from the site. The unique approach of the project are: vigorous stakeholder involvement, comprehensive project management to cover the whole project cycle, flexible project formulation to meet local needs, capacity building of stakeholders, intensive guidance to beneficiaries and operators, and so on. Large scale implementation of water saving farming method (SRI) is one of the characteristic activities of the project.
Mahaweli System C Upgrading Project – Village Self-help
In order to undertake successful handing over of irrigation facilities to FOs, appropriate O&M activities and further agricultural development, the Project have been implemented through participatory approach with the ODA loan of JBIC. Key actions for this approach were as follows:
1. Awareness Program consisting of “field canal (FC) group meeting” and “workshop held by FOs” at the initial stage;
2. Restoration work by farmers themselves; and
3. Practical and effective training program in accordance with farmers’ interests.
Practical and successful experience is necessary for actions by farmers. The strengthening or empowerment of organizations requires providing practical experiences to them, and cannot be learned in the class alone. Once farmers have good experiences in the beginning stage of the project, they could continue to their activity smoothly.
Farmer Networks for Participatory Irrigation Management in India
While PIM legislation enacted in south India had resulted in increased farmer participation in water management, farmers felt a lack of commitment by government at assist WUAs. In January 2004, Jalaspandana was organized, funded by INPIM, to strengthen WUAs and work with them for policy reform. In 2004-2005, success has been made through networking, establishing a communication structure, and capacity building. Farmers increasingly are helped with the tools they require to effect legislative changes, and improve the quality of the water they use for irrigation. This unique organization transcends state and WUA boundaries to help farmers effect necessary changes.
Transfer of the Irrigation Districts to the Users in Mexico; A Successful Experience
The government acknowledged that the irrigation associations would make a better use of the limited budget. The CONAGUA established it’s commitment on the “National Program to Decentralize the Irrigation Districts” as part of the National Development Plan 1989 -1994. The transfer process was not an easy task, as it had to overcome many obstacles such as the lack of accordance with the new scheme as it represented change and demanded a greater responsibility and the associations did not want to accept the deteriorated condition of the infrastructure. And the other major obstacle was the agreement to increase the water fees up to 500% in order to establish an economic self-sufficiency for the operations of the newly formed irrigation associations. After several process, finally the irrigation users have demonstrated their capacity of managing, maintaining, operating and modernizing the irrigation districts in such a way that the self-sufficiency of the associations increased from 43% in 1989 to 80% in 2005.