Programme  OS5k Local water governance  abstract 489


Author(s): Results of Irrigation Management Transfer in Maharashtra, India
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

Keyword(s): India, Maharashtra, Irrigation Management Transfer, Water Users Associations, Livelihoods

Article: abs489_article.pdf
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Session: OS5k Local water governance

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


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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