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SURFACE IRRIGATION AND LIVELIHOODS

Author(s): Results of Irrigation Management Transfer in Maharashtra, India
Congress: 2008
Author(s): Nitin Bassi
Nitin Bassi Research Officer International Water Management Institute South Asia Liaison Office NASC Complex, DPS Marg, Pusa New Delhi- 110012, India Tel (off.): +91- 11 25840811/12 Fax: +91- 11 25842075 n.bassi@cgiar.org

Keyword(s): India, Maharashtra, Irrigation Management Transfer, Water Users Associations, Livelihoods
Article: Oral:
AbstractIrrigation plays a significant role in the agricultural expansion of several countries. For the economies having major reliance on agriculture, irrigation development must happen to be their prime focus area. Considering the importance, Indian irrigation development is undergoing various reforms. Most of these reforms are paying attention towards reducing gap between irrigation potential created & utilized and also in involving end users in the management of irrigation systems. For the purpose, various state governments have adopted many policy reforms including promotion of Irrigation management transfer (IMT) in India. State of Maharashtra, located on the western part of Indian subcontinent, is one of the major advocate and supporter of IMT in India. This is partially due to the success of cooperative movements in the past which yielded beneficial results. Presently, the state is promoting IMT through participatory irrigation management (PIM) wherein farmers are encouraged to participate or get involved in the management of irrigation systems. Under the approach, water users associations (WUAs) at the tertiary level of the irrigation system (i.e. minor level) were formed. Although formation of WUAs in the state started way back in 1989 -90 but the PIM act came into existence only in the year 2005. As per 2006 figures, the state has 1127 WUAs with a cultivable command area (CCA) of 3,71,785 hectare formally registered and handling the irrigation distribution system. This paper documents by taking the examples of successful WUAs (criteria defined in the paper), how the efficient management of irrigation system by the end users has made an impact on their livelihoods. In total four WUAs representing different regions of Maharashtra state were chosen. From each selected WUA, 10% of the farmers were selected through stratified random sampling. For getting responses from the farmers, schedule and focus group discussions were used as instruments. Attempt is made through the study to rationally link the impacts on livelihoods to the successful management of conveyance system by the end users. The impacts on livelihoods were analyzed under the broad umbrella of DFID sustainable livelihoods framework. Major impacts, which came out of the study, included timely & adequate availability of irrigation water, increased crop productivity, improved standard of living, assured labor work, and better social networking. The main aspect behind these encouraging results was the better operation and management of irrigation infrastructure or conveyance system by the members of the WUAs after the system was handed over to them. Interestingly in spite of the fact that irrigation system was selectively repaired by irrigation department (ID) before handing over to WUAs, results indicate that substantial work has been done by the end users. However if the systems were fully rehabilitated by ID before transfer, then the livelihoods outcomes may have increased by manifolds. Paper concludes that to have desired results from farmers managed irrigation system, important is to provide them with the human trainings (capacity building), technical training (for efficient conveyance system) and financial support (for repair and rehabilitation of system) before the irrigation systems transfer.
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