October 20, 2012

2012: Highlight # 15

Participatory Irrigation Management (PIM) is hard to implement and even harder to sustain and up-scale. Sonal Bhatt argues that financial incentives, outsourcing and diversification might help...

Performance of Participatory Irrigation Management

A study of two water users’ associations in Anand district of Gujarat

Sonal Bhatt

Assessing the performance of water users’ associations (WUAs) is a complex task. Literature associates a large number of parameters with their success and failure. This paper presents an in-depth study of two WUAs that are considered well-functioning by the irrigation department in Anand district, Gujarat. It discusses some new issues and innovations being tried out in Anand: (1) incentives and disincentives for WUA membership; (2) outsourcing of Irrigation Service Fee (ISF) collection by the WUAs; and (3) expansion of the scope of WUA activities beyond irrigation, with a potential impact on financial viability of the WUA.

The Highlight also discusses degrees of success in WUAs in the context of these and tries to draw out lessons that may be widely applicable. On most counts, the performance of the two WUAs leaves much scope for improvement. However, there is some evidence to suggest that greater vigour on the part of the Irrigation Department (ID) in collecting ISF and in dealing with defaulters can energize WUAs. Equally, ID role in making timely and reliable water deliveries to WUAs is also an important factor influencing WUA performance.

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