Irrigation Management Transfer: Selected Papers from the International Conference on Irrigation Management Transfer
Transfer of irrigation management responsibilities from governments to farmer organizations has become national policy in many countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. In September, 1994, an international conference on the subject, the first of its kind, was convened in Wuhan, China. This report presents 32 of the more than 100 papers delivered at that conference. Issues discussed include, inter alia: the essential technical, legal, economic, social, and institutional conditions for irrigation management transfer; conditions, terms, and arrangements that motivate and enable farmers to assume effective management; elements that strengthen or weaken farmer management capacity; changes needed in system design to make infrastructure compatible with local management capacity; methods for managing bureaucratic resistance to management transfer; support services needed to make locally managed irrigation viable and sustainable; and other management models that may be more appropriate than farmer organizations for management of medium- and large-scale irrigation systems. Also discussed was the compelling and distinctive approach of the Chinese for de-collectivization of irrigated agriculture. Following a section of issue papers, papers are organized geographically. The major conclusion is that no single model for irrigation management transfer is universally applicable. Viable transfer requires a locally distinctive configuration of institutions, technology, financing, agricultural strategy, and management practices. Key elements include maintenance of water fees and secure water rights. The effects of management transfer on the long-term physical and financial sustainability of irrigation systems and on the environment are still unclear.