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National Convention of Presidents of Water User Associations organized by MoWR RD & GR. - IndiaNPIM at Delhi (7-8 Nov.

2014)

SustainabilityIssuesin
ParticipatoryIrrigationManagement(PIM)inIndia

PhanishSinha1

1.0

ThePIMApproachtoIrrigationManagement

1.1

TwomeaningsofPIM2

TherearetwodominantmeaningsofPIMthathaveemergedoverthepastdecade:(1)One
istheoriginaldefinitionofPIMpromotedby the WorldBankand whichreflectsaflexible
concept:ParticipatoryIrrigationManagement(PIM)referstotheinvolvementofirrigation
usersinallaspectsofirrigationmanagement,andatalllevels.Thekeynotionhereisthat
individualfarmersparticipateinirrigationmanagementinsomeway,buttheprecisenature
of that participation is left open. (2) The other meaning of PIM is that of management
transfer from a government body to a farmer body. This term is precisely known as
irrigationmanagementtransfer(IMT).
1.2

DifferencesbetweenPIMandIMT:

Thereisanimportantdifferencebetweenthetwoacronyms,PIMandIMT.Thekeyfeature
ofPIMisparticipationbyindividualfarmersinthemanagementoftheirrigationsystemthat
they depend upon. Whether they participate directly or indirectly, as owners or only
advisors,isleftopeninthedefinition.Whatmattersisthequalityormeaningfulnessofthe
participation;theformisflexible.ThekeyfeatureofIMT,ontheotherhand,isthetransfer
out of government's hands into the users' hands. Whether individual farmers participate
activelyinthenewmanagementarrangementsisnotaddressedbythisconcept.
1.3

CommonfeaturesofPIMandIMT:

AlthoughmanytypesofPIMarepossible,experiencehasdemonstratedthatmanagement
participationbyfarmersismuchmorelikelywhentheyareofficiallyinchargeofthesystem.
ThisistheconnectionbetweenPIMandIMT.Whenthegovernmentirrigationdepartment
signs a transfer agreement with farmers stipulating that farmers are now responsible for
management below a certain offtake, farmers have a new motivation to become active
participantsinthemanagementprocess.
1

Participatory Irrigation Management Specialist, Member, Governing Body of Indian Network on Participatory
Irrigation Management (IndiaNPIM), Email: phanishsinha@gmail.com
2
David Groenfeldt, INPIM training module for Third International Programme on Capacity Building on PIM
organized by International Network on Participatory Irrigation Management at Izmir, Turkey (Oct 21-30, 2007)

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National Convention of Presidents of Water User Associations organized by MoWR RD & GR. - IndiaNPIM at Delhi (7-8 Nov. 2014)

1.4

RationaleforpromotingPIMthroughstrengtheningofWUAs

The rationale of promoting PIM through strengthening of WUAs can be summarized as


follows:
1) The users participation promotes sense of ownership with the irrigation system.
Usersare more likely to abide byrules andregulationsset for management of the
system and water distribution if they are part of the rule setting process and
regulation.
2) Userhavebetterinformationandaccesstolocalresources.Management,operation
andmaintenance(MOM)isneedbased,costeffectiveandtimely.
3) The livelihood of water users depend on canal system, hence their stakes and
motivationinmaintainingthecanalsystemarehigherthangovernmentagencies.
4) WUAs are not constrained by the bureaucratic functioning and will be more
responsivetofarmersneeds.
5) InIndia,72%landholdingsarebelowonehectareinsizeand12%landholdingsvary
from 1 to 2 ha which are not viable for modern agriculture methods and
technological interventions on standalone basis. The economy of scale for
backward and forward linkages is also not possible unless small and marginal
landholdersformanorganizationtomanageit.
6) A management entity is required at the onfarm level as an interfacebetween the
main system supplier and the individual farmer if water distribution and system
maintenancearetobecarriedouteffectivelyatthislevel.Afarmersassociationcan
addressthisneedanddoessoinmanycountrieswithsmallholderirrigation(Mexico,
Turkey,Philippines,Kyrgyzstan)
2.0

WhyWUAsfail

Some of the challenges and threats for longterm viability and sustainability of WUAs are
summarizedbelow:
(i) Lack of legal back up and policy changes: In some States, there is no or very little
legalbackupandclearpolicydecisionatthegovernmentleveltotakeupPIM,which
isabigimpedimentinimplementationofPIM.
(ii) Lack of political and bureaucratic will: In most States WUAs have been formed to
meetprojectclearancerequirementimposedbyMoWRortheWorldBankorother
donorsbutthecreationofWUAshasnotbeenseenasapriorityreformforirrigation
sector. Although many States have enacted PIM acts, rules, regulations and
guidelines to implement PIM, there has been little active promotion and support
fromthepoliticalandbureaucraticmachinery,withtheresultthatWUAshavebeen
registered on paper but not provided with the necessary training and capacity
buildingtodeveloptheknowledge,skillsandresourcestofunctioneffectively..
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National Convention of Presidents of Water User Associations organized by MoWR RD & GR. - IndiaNPIM at Delhi (7-8 Nov. 2014)

(iii) Lack of official commitment: The IDs are unwilling to share their power and
informationwithwaterusers.
(iv) Pseudoparticipation: the ID/WRD pays lip service to the process but is does not
makethesuccessofPIMapriority.
(v) Topdown delegation of work: WUAs are formed just to do jobs ordered by the
agency,thereisnorealintentionofsharingmanagementdecisionmaking
(vi) WUAsformedwithnoroleinsystemmanagement.ResponsibilitiesgiventoWUAare
tootrivialorunrealistictogeneratefarmerinterestandcommitment.
(vii) Inadequatesupport:ThereisnocadreofWUAorganizersandlittleornotraining
ofIDstaffinsocialmobilizationandWUAformation.
(viii) Abuse by WUA leadership: There can be abuse of position by WUAs leaders,
particularly where the WUA President is directly elected by the water users rather
than being appointed by elected members of the WUA Committee. Another risk is
theelitecaptureordominationofcontractorsintheWUAleadership.
(ix) PoliticizationofWUAs:AgainrelatedtothepresidentialstyleofelectionoftheWUA
President, with candidates seeing the WUA elections as a step on the political
pathway. For successful WUAs there is considerable risk from local politicians
wantingtopoliticizetheelections/staffrecruitmentsfortheirownpoliticalbenefit.
(x) WeakleadershipwithinWUAs:Farmersleadershipcanbeweak,inexperiencedand
factionridden.
(xi) Outdated system of water charges:In India, for historical reasons, irrigation water
chargesareseenasataxratherthanasaservicefee.Waterpricingissometimes
usedasapoliticaltoolratherthanreflectingthetruecostsofO&Moftheirrigation
infrastructure. Depending on the State the water charges are either collected
directlybytheRevenueDepartmentorbytheID/WRD,notbytheWUAs.Inother
countries,aservicefeeisset,andcollected,bytheWUAfortheMOMofthesystem.
Thisservice fee may also include fees to be paid on to the main canal operator to
covertheMOMcostsofthemainsystem.
(xii)Inadequate funding: The water charges collected are not sufficient to properly
maintain the system infrastructure. Also each State has a different system of
collectingandutilizingthewatercharges.ThisaffectsthefinancialviabilityofWUAs.
(xiii) Lackofpaidstaff:AlmostallthedesignsandmodelsofWUAdonotelaborateon
theremunerationtobepaidtoWUAfunctionarieswhoinvesttheirenergyandtime
in WUA activities. It is impractical to think that regular functionaries of WUA shall
workselflesslywithoutanycompensation.
In most countries there is a difference made between governance and executive
staff of WUAs, with executive staffsuch as water mastersand gate operators who
work on a daily basis for the WUA being paid, and governance functions, such as
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National Convention of Presidents of Water User Associations organized by MoWR RD & GR. - IndiaNPIM at Delhi (7-8 Nov. 2014)

occasional meetings of the WUA Management Committee being carried out on a


voluntarybasis.
(xiv) System deficiency:In many irrigation schemes, the condition of the infrastructure
has deteriorated; there are heavy leakages and seepages at various locations of
conveyance network, and a lack of control and measuring structures. Unless these
systemsarerehabilitatedorupgradedfarmersarereluctanttotakeoverthesystem
management.Rehabilitation/modernizationofsuchsystemswillrequiresignificant
investmentbythestategovernments.
(xv)Uncertainty of water availability: The situation of either plentiful or very scarce
water availability does not provide incentive to farmers to work together. Areas
having moderate water scarcity can expect scope for PIM. Irrigation Departments
haveyettodevelopconfidenceamongWUAsaboutassuredwaterdelivery.Farmers
arereluctanttotakeontheresponsibilityformanagingthesystemunlessdeliveries
ofwateraremoresuitedtotheirneedsintermsofreliability,adequacy,timeliness
and flexibility. Poor main system management discourages WUA functioning. In
addition, in some irrigation schemes, the share of withdrawal of water for non
irrigationuseshasbeenincreasingwhichthreatensthesustainabilityofWUAs.
(xvi) Drought years: During drought years reservoirs or tanks do not receive adequate
water for irrigation, and thus irrigation activity is greatly reduced. If the water
scarcity lasts for more than one year the WUA may become defunct and in some
casesitbecomesdifficulttorevivetheWUAs.
(xvii) DependencyonWaterResources/IrrigationDepartment:OvertheyearsIrrigation
Departments have acted as custodians of irrigation water, while farmers were
considered as recipients/ beneficiaries. Still the majority of WUAs are profoundly
dependent on support of Irrigation Department, which inhibits taking on full
responsibility and gaining confidence by WUAs. In many cases WUAs do not get
required cooperation from the Department. It may also be the case that the
Departmentpersonnelfearthepossiblelossoftheirpowerandprivileges.
(xviii) Conflict of interest between head reach and tailend farmers: Traditionally, the
headreachfarmerstendtoapportionmorewaterthanrequired,whereasthetail
end farmers often fail to get their share of water. Headreach farmers, therefore,
have vested interest in continuing the status quo. The tailender farmers even
thoughtheyarekeentoformWUAs,remainapprehensiveanddonottakealead.In
some cases, powerful farmers use WUA as a tool to serve their interest. These
differencesinperceptionsandconflictsofinterestsinhibittheproperformationand
functioningofWUAs.
(xix) Fear of lack of financial sustainability:Although in some States, government is
helpinginitiallytoestablishWUAsbyprovidingliberalfinancialsupport,farmersare
apprehensive about the assured and continuous availability of funds for operation
and maintenance of the system. Nonavailability of funds with the State
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National Convention of Presidents of Water User Associations organized by MoWR RD & GR. - IndiaNPIM at Delhi (7-8 Nov. 2014)

Governments for maintenance and repair or rehabilitation of irrigation system


discouragesfarmerstoformWUAs.Thusdevelopingconfidenceaboutthefinancial
viabilityofWUAsisoneofthekeychallengestotheirsustainability.
(xx) Nonavailability of financial support to nonCAD irrigation schemes: Presently,
financial support from the Central Government is made available only for those
project covered by CADWM. There are large number of irrigation schemes not
covered by CADWM programme that are deprived of Central and State assistance
towardsformationandsupportofWUAs.
(xxi) Lack of technical knowledge:Management ofirrigation schemes, especially large
scalerequiresspecializedtechnicalknowhowandtrainedmanpower.Mostfarmers
donotfeelcompetenttotakeoverthemanagementofirrigationschemes.Itistobe
realizedthatWUAsshouldfirstbeexposedtomanaging,operatingandmaintaining
the onfarm systems (below the outlet, or along the minor) then they can think
about moving up to help with the management of the main system. Stepbystep
shouldbeakeyprincipleofWUAformationanddevelopment,onestepatatime.
(xxii) Lack ofleadership:Gettinggoodleadership isthe singlemostimportantfactorfor
successofthePIM.Duetoinadequateknowledgeorlackofexposure,findingagood
leader to manage WUAs always remains a challenge. There are many examples of
rise and fall of WUAs due to not only lack of cooperation/ discipline among WUA
membersbutalsoduetofadingofagoodleadership.
(xxiii) Demographicdiversityandsocioeconomicheterogeneity:Indiahasvastdiversityof
population in respect of social, economic, ethnic, education levels etc., so also of
diversity of farmers. Thus a WUA having farmers with a homogenous social
background has more chances of success than that of heterogeneous social
background (in terms of caste, village, and religion).Thus the onesizefitsall
approachisnotapplicableinIndia.EachStateandI&Dschemeneedstoevolveits
ownuniquesystemofPIM.
(xxiv) Capacity development and training needs:For implementation of PIM over large
area, extensive training and capacity development of various stake holders
irrigation officers to WUA members is necessary. The training courses should be
tailor made and should be offered at the opportune time. Although, there are
laudable training efforts by many State Governments through the State Training
Institutes (such as WALMIs) and NGOs, the requirement is enormous and the
trainingcapacityneedstobeenhancedseveralfold.
(xxv) OrganizationalstructureofWUAs:Afewstates,notablyOrissa,HaryanaandUttar
PradeshhaveformedWaterUserAssociationsattheoutletlevelwhilesomeother
states have the lowest level WUA constituted at territorial constituency level
(comprisingofafewoutletcommandstogether).Someexpertsfeelthattheoutlet
WUAapproachseemedtobeinvestingtoomuchtimeandresourcesinsteadatthe
minorlevelWUAsoastotakeresponsibilityforO&Moftheirrigationinfrastructure
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National Convention of Presidents of Water User Associations organized by MoWR RD & GR. - IndiaNPIM at Delhi (7-8 Nov. 2014)

(Johnson,2009).Itisappropriatethatcoreobjectiveofjointmanagementwithfull
beneficiary participation is gradually achieved by incrementally building up WUAs
fromminortodistributaryandfinallyuptoprojectlevel.However,inthefirststage,
atwotierstructureuptominorlevelismoreparticipativeinnatureasitiseasyto
organizefarmerseffectivelyinsmallergroups(815farmers).Normallyachakof58
hectares in a canal command consists of 815 farmers and it is ideal as primary
constituency for outlet committee representatives which will represent Kulaba
Samiti (Outlet Committee), which shall further confederate into WUA at minor
level.
3.0

IdentifyingkeyfactorsforthesuccessofPIMinIndia

3.1
Principlesforapplicationofcommunitywatermanagementprinciplestoformation
ofWUAs
Some of the key community water management principles required in the formation of
successfulWUAsinclude:
(i)
(ii)
(iii)
(iv)
(v)
(vi)
(vii)
(viii)
(ix)
(x)
(xi)
(xii)
(xiii)
(xiv)
(xv)
(xvi)

WUAsineverystatemustsettheirowntasksandagendas:
WUAscannotbeformedjustbyorder:
Attitudeoftheirrigation/CADagencymustbesupportive
Irrigationagencymustbeaccountabletothewaterusers
WUAsshouldbebuiltusingsocialcapitalthatexists
Rightkindoflocalleadershipisrequired.
Nosinglemodelcanbeimposeduniformly
Socialorganizationforlargesystemsisverycomplex
Needtoadoptastepbystepapproachforlargesystems
WUAsmustbesustainablewithoutsubsidies
WUAsshouldbemadecapabletomanagetheenvironment
Trainingisrequiredatalllevels
Buildingpeoplesinstitutionstaketime
Governmentagenciesneedtobereorganized
Watermanagementrequiresmultidisciplinaryapproach
WUAsshouldfocusoncoreactivities.

Theseissuesarediscussedinmoredetailinthesectionsbelow.
1) WUAsineverystatemustsettheirowntasksandagendas:
PIMActsarerigidandprescriptiveintheirapproachanddonotallowWUAstosettheir
own tasks and agendas based upon their specific needs, strengths and local situation.
Unlessfarmersareallowedflexibilityinsettingtheirtasksandagenda,theircapacityto
take up responsibilities of irrigation management will be minimal. In the World Bank
funded Madhya Pradesh Water Sector Restructuring Project (MPWSRP) the Project
Implementation and Coordination Unit (PICU) has developed a process to enableeach
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National Convention of Presidents of Water User Associations organized by MoWR RD & GR. - IndiaNPIM at Delhi (7-8 Nov. 2014)

WUA to develop its own Charter which, within the framework of the current PIM Act,
enables each WUA to discuss and formulate its own operating rules. The Charter is
beingusedasoneofthemechanismsforreengagingwithWUAsandwaterusersinthe
State(WorldBank,2012).ThemainobjectiveoftheCharteristosetoutinonesuccinct
and easy to read document the main tasks of WUAs, the rights and duties of WUA
members, and the basic rules for the operation of WUAs, as agreed by the WUA
members.
2) WUAscannotbeformedjustbyorder:
If WUAs have to succeed in India, we need to analyze the factors affecting the
willingnessoftheprimeactors,namely,IDs/CADAs/WRDsononehandandthewater
usersontheotherhandtoinvolvethemselves.MostofthePIMactshavebeenframed
without consultation with water users. The PIM Acts are focused on shifting all water
management and system operation and maintenance responsibilities to water users
withoutanycompensationtotheirinvestmentoftimeandeffort.ThePIMActsenvisage
somesophisticatedfunctionslikewateraudit,waterbudgeting,waterdistributionand
conflict resolution to WUAs which neither have been attempted by irrigation
departments nor appropriate skills exist with the department. The responsibilities of
officebearersofWUAcallfortheirfulltimeinvolvement.Italsocallsfortimeandcash
contributions from the farmers to support an agenda in which the farmers do not
perceive any gain or incentives for themselves. Unless the farmers are convinced that
there is adequate compensation and incentives for their effort, formation of robust
WUAswillnotbepossible.
3) Attitudeoftheirrigation/CADagencymustbesupportive
The administrative character of State Irrigation Departments promotes highly
centralized decisionmaking and emphasizes implementation of predetermined plans,
withlittlescopeforparticipatoryplanningandimplementation.TheExecutiveEngineer,
asheadofanirrigationdivisionisvestedwithenormouspowersunder theCanalActs
(some of which are existing since British India days). Therefore, his attitude is
paternalistic towards the farmerclient. The communication, trust and interaction
between the Executive Engineer and the farmerclient, on the basis of equality, are
practicallynonexistent.
Undersuchsituation,IrrigationOfficialsoftencomplainaboutthefarmersirresponsible
behaviourintamperingwithcanalstructuresandtakingunauthorizedwithdrawals.On
the other hand, farmers complain about poor system maintenance and
inadequateoperation of canals, nonavailability of irrigation officials, their paternalistic
attitudeandtheirindifferencetoirrigationneedsofthearea.
The notable feature is that the Irrigation Departments are constructionoriented and
their priorities lie in implementation of predetermined plans according to budget
allocations. Hence clientoriented PIM does not occupy a prominent place in their
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National Convention of Presidents of Water User Associations organized by MoWR RD & GR. - IndiaNPIM at Delhi (7-8 Nov. 2014)

implementation plans. Moreover, their PIM initiatives are found more construction
centred than managementcentred, resting mainly upon the technical interventions of
physicalrehabilitationandmodernizationpackageforthecanalsystemratherthanthe
peopleandmanagementsystemsthatoperateandmaintainthephysicalinfrastructure.
4) Irrigationagencymustbeaccountabletothewaterusers
AsWUAsaredesignedsocialorganizations,anexternalagentisneededtohelpestablish
themThiscouldbeanNGOoragovernmentdepartmentsuchasIrrigationDepartment
(ID),CommandAreaDevelopmentAgency(CADA),LandDevelopmentCorporation,etc.
oraresourcefulindividual,say,alocalleaderoractivist.InmanyStates,theCADAshave
mandate to form WUAs under the Command Area Development and Management
Programme.ManyotherdepartmentsalsoundertakepilotsubprojectwhereWUAsare
beingformed.
ItisobviousthatthebasicrequirementforsustainabilityofWUAsisdependableaccess
to water. Unreliable and inadequate availability of canal supplies negates the very
purpose of group action. Since the Irrigation Departments are principal suppliers of
water,thesuccessandsustainabilityofWUAslargelydependupontheirwillingnessand
commitment to promote PIM. It leads to conclusion that (a) the ID need to be held
accountable to WUAs/water users and (b) the IDs are best placed of all the actors to
supportWUAformation.Howeverthe(a)and(b)rolesareinconflicttosomedegree,
theIDishardlylikelytosetuptheWUAstobeaggressiveinchasingtheIDtoprovidea
qualityservice!OntheotherhandtheIDdounderstandwaterandhavethestaffonthe
groundtoassistWUAs.Iftheyaretohelp,asinMexicoandTurkey,theyneedamajor
changeofmindset.
5) WUAsshouldbebuiltusingsocialcapitalthatexists
Just as social institutions, such as caste create interlinkages among people, local
organizationssuchascooperatives,villagepanchayatortraditionalcastepanchayatand
creditandmutualaidsocietiesaddtothestockofsocialcapital.Ithasbeenobservedin
manyPIMprogramsthatthefunctioningofWUAsismoreparticipatoryanddemocratic
where a culture of strong Self Help Groups (SHGs) is already established. In the states
whereWUAshavebeenestablishedattheoutletlevel(lowestpartofacanalsystem),it
willbegoodifSHGsarepromotedforbetterresultsinWUAfunctioning.
6) Rightkindoflocalleadershipisrequired
Leadersprovidefocalpointsfororganizationandreducetransactioncosts(Gulatietal,
2002). At initial stages particular leaders may be critical, both for mobilizing support
within and outside the group and modifying behaviour of members. Normally, it has
been observed that during formation and initial stages of WUA, local contractors
become very active to capture WUAs agenda on repair and maintenance of the canal
system
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National Convention of Presidents of Water User Associations organized by MoWR RD & GR. - IndiaNPIM at Delhi (7-8 Nov. 2014)

Thepromoteragencyshouldbecarefullesttheymaynotovershadowthefunctioningof
WUA.
Trustedleaderscanprovidetheassurancethatisnecessaryforpeopletobewillingto
cooperate. However organizations and collective action that depend on a particular
individual may not be robust and sustainable over the long run as those that are
institutionalized.Agoodsystemisonethatmaybeformedbyadynamicandtrusted
localleader,butwhichissubsequentlyinstitutionalisedwithanelectedWUACommittee
whichthenelectstheWUAChairmanfromamongsttheCommittee.
7) Nosinglemodelcanbeimposeduniformly
Everyproject/statehasuniquesetofthreatsandopportunitiesandauniformmodel
cannotsucceed.HenceeachWUAshouldbegivenflexibilitytoprepareitsowncharter
andbylawslikeMPWSRPas discussedabove. Forexample,thesituationintheStates
lyingintheIndoGangeticplain(NorthernStates)isdifferentfromtheSouthernStates.
The IndoGangetic States are mostly served by runoftheriver schemes where
uncertainty of canal deliveries is often greater than reservoir fed systems of the
SouthernStates.ThewatersavedbyaWUAinaparticularseasonmaybeallottedtothe
WUAsinthenextseasonasanincentiveinthereservoirfedsystemsbutthisincentiveis
notpossibleintherunoftheriverschemes.Theproblemofsiltisfarmoreacuteinthe
runoftheriver schemes. Another major difference lies in easy availability of ground
water in IndoGangetic States. While easy availability of ground water provides for
assuredirrigation,theirprivateownershipstatusgivesanopportunitytofarmerstoopt
outofinefficientcanalirrigationsystems.TheWUAs,thereforemayfaceadelicatetask
of implementing conjunctive use of surface and ground water integrating community
watermanagementwithprivatewatermanagement.Therefore,everyStateshallhave
toevolveitsownstrategybasedonthenatureofirrigationsystems,ownershippattern,
institutions,traditions,needsandfeedbackfromthepilotprojects.(Sinha,2002).Within
the State framework individual WUAs also need to be empowered to formulate their
own management, operation and maintenance rules, as is being done under the
MPWSRPinMadhyaPradeshbyallowingeachWUAtoprepareitsownCharter.
8) Socialorganizationforlargesystemsisverycomplex
ThecanalirrigationsystemsareoftenquitelargeanditisdifficulttoorganizeWUAson
themfortworeasons:(i)thenumberofthefarmersarequitelargerequiringinvestment
ofhugeresourcesattheinitialstagesand(2)waterusersatlowerleveloftheirrigation
systemarenotabletoestablishthecauseeffectrelationshipbetweentheireffortsand
commensurategains.

9) Needtoadoptastepbystepapproachforlargesystems
The State PIM Act elaborate in detail how higher level WUA organizations at the
distributary and upto project/scheme level can be formed. Experience from other
countries,suchasMexicoandTurkey,haveshownthatitisimportanttogetthelower
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National Convention of Presidents of Water User Associations organized by MoWR RD & GR. - IndiaNPIM at Delhi (7-8 Nov. 2014)

orderWUAsfunctioningcorrectlybeforemovingabovetheoutletorminorcanal.Once
theWUAsareabletomanage,operateandmaintaintheirsystemswithintheoutletor
minor command, they will be interested, and able, to start getting involved in the
managementofthehigherordercanals.ThisisnottosaythattheseWUAsshouldnot
be pushing at the outset for the ID/WRD to provide them with a reliable, timely and
adequateirrigationwatersupply.
10) WUAsmustbesustainablewithoutsubsidies
PIM Acts promulgated by the states, in general, do not allow WUAs to set irrigation
water charges but have a provision of a fixed percentage of plough back of collected
waterchargestoWUAs.Whenthewaterchargesareminimalandnearlyfree,theshare
forWUAsisinsignificant.Currently,WUAsareprovidedwithmanagementsubsidyata
rateofRs1000/ha.WUAsarealsogivenfundsforoperation and maintenanceofthe
systembytheStateGovernments.Ifthesesubsidiesarewithdrawn,theWUAswillnot
befinanciallyviable.ItisbetterifWUAssetandcollecttheirownirrigationfeestocover
actual expenditure on water management activities and administrative charges in a
transparentmannerforsustainabilityofWUAs.
11) WUAsshouldbemadecapabletomanagetheenvironment
Waterlogging,salinity,unsustainablegroundwaterextractionandcontaminationofsoil
and land are major issues in irrigated agriculture which are crucial for agriculture
productivity. These issues can be tackled only if the WUAs are sensitized towards
environment management and new and innovative extension tools like Farmer Field
SchoolsandFarmerWaterSchoolsarestrengthenedtotakeuptheircapacitybuildingin
managingtheenvironment.
12) Trainingisrequiredatalllevels
The main issues that affect the irrigation sector have changed significantly. Todays
irrigation environment is more complicated and dynamic than ever before .The canals
wereprimarilyconstructedwiththeaimofprovidingprotectiveirrigationtosafeguard
the farmers from recurrent drought and famines. The economic environment has
changed asselfsufficiency in food has largelybeen reached and farmers now look for
productive irrigation instead of protective irrigation which implies that they are not
satisfiedwithbareminimumsuppliestokeeptheircropalivebutdemandfullsupplies
asperwaterrequirementsoftheircrops.InthiseraofPanchayatiRajSystemwherethe
Constitution(SeventyThirdAmendmentin1992)providesforconstitutionalsanctionto
thePanchayatsastheinstitutesoflocalselfgovernance,thepoliticalenvironmenthas
becomemoreresponsivetothedemandsfarmersmakeonthedepartment.Avigorous,
needbased and sustained training effort is, therefore, required to help the Executive
Engineers and other irrigation agency staff to review their constructioncentric,
administrative, selfcentred and inputoriented work culture and appreciate the
requirementsoftheirnewrolewhichdemandsincreasingfocusonwatermanagement,
and need based support to WUAs for increasing productivity of their farms through
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National Convention of Presidents of Water User Associations organized by MoWR RD & GR. - IndiaNPIM at Delhi (7-8 Nov. 2014)

scientificinputmanagementbyWUAs.Thenewroledemandsknowledgeofcropand
irrigationwaterrequirements,farmerliaisonandorganization,cropandfarmeconomics
andsocialdynamics.Itrequiresmultidisciplinarystafftobedeployedwhohaveamore
relevant educational background and experience, such as agricultural engineers,
agronomistsandruralsociologist.
Participatory Irrigation Management (PIM) is a new approach which encourages the
involvement of the users viz., the farmers in all the decision making and
implementationprocessofirrigationwaterconveyance,delivery,application,utilization
and drainage initially at minor canal level and gradually moving upwards in the canal
system. This kind of integrated interaction and joint management is new for both the
irrigationagencyandthefarmers.Suchachangerequiresspecialskillsandattitudeson
thepartofboththeirrigationagencyandthefarmersinordertomodifytheirpresent
rolesandresponsibilities.Therefore,besidestheExecutiveEngineerandotherirrigation
agencyofficials,farmersalsorequirevigoroustraining/capacitybuildingtoadopttheir
newrolethroughinnovativeextensiontoolslikeFarmerFieldSchoolsandFarmerWater
Schools.
13) Buildingpeoplesinstitutionstaketime
It is easier to form a WUA under the PIM Act and count it but its functioning as an
institution which can assume independent responsibility of irrigation management
depends on a slow, consistent capacity building and handholding process by the
promoteragency.Dependingontheenablingenvironmentforfarmersparticipation,it
maytake10to15yearsbeforeaWUAmaturesasaninstitutionandcanbeconsidered
to be selfsustaining. The PIM implementation plan should focus on supporting
organizational functions of WUA during the initial years gradually shifting to water
managementfunctions.
ThereiswidespreadmisconceptionregardingPIMamongallranksofgovernmentstaff
whothinkthattheirroleendswithelectionandconstitutionofWUAs(andevenduring
theprocessofformation,theirroleislimitedtorehabilitationanddeferredmaintenance
of canal only) and once a WUA is constituted, it is fully responsible for O&M and cost
recovery and other water management functions from Day 1. An action research on
BasarahiyaWaterCooperativeSociety(BWCS)inUttarPradesh(Sinha,1994)hasclearly
brought out that the irrigation agency understood the process of handing over five
outlets on a canal to BWCS as an abrupt relinquishment of their role in irrigation
management with appalling consequences. The irrigation agency officials have to be
sensitized that there is a continuing and supporting role of irrigation agency, even in
caseswhereWUAshaveachievedsovereigntyoverallaspectsofirrigationmanagement.
Normally, WUA ownership implies that they are responsible for O&M, user
representation and other functions related with agricultural growth while irrigation
agencyandotherlineagenciescontinuetohavefacilitatorandregulatoryrole.

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14) Governmentagenciesneedtobereorganized
A WUA requires support from many government agencies like ID, CADA, DOA, DOH,
Ground Water Department, and Rural Development Department etc. These agencies
workinisolationandoftenatcrosspurposes.ForexampleonafewminorsinUP,the
CADAandUPIDbothhaveestablishedWUAseparately.TheDepartmentofAgriculture
promotes crop varieties and crop practices while IDs are suppliers of irrigation water.
Both the departments never sit together to sort out which crop varieties and crop
practicesaretobepromotedbasedonavailablewater.ItwillbeappropriatethattheID
and CADA are merged in to a single unit for better coordination. Since WUAs are
envisioned to implement IWRM approach, ground water department should also be
mergedintheWRD.Itisnotunreasonabletothinkthatformajorandmediumschemes
there should be a coordinating committee comprising key stakeholders (WUAs, ID,
AgricultureDept.,Panchayats,etc.)whomeetperiodicallytocoordinatetheactivitieson
thescheme(suchascropplanning,irrigationschedules,etc.)
15) Watermanagementrequiresmultidisciplinaryapproach
Irrigationwatermanagementisasociotechnicalprocessandrequiresmultidisciplinary
approach.TraditionalIDswouldbeabletosupportWUAsonlywhenwatermanagement
divisions/PIM Cells are established and staff in disciplines such as rural sociology,
agronomy, agriculture engineering, onfarm water management and use are available.
AsIDhaveprofessionalirrigationmanagersinkeypositionssuchasExecutiveEngineers,
there is no reason why agricultural engineers are not eligible to be inducted in such
positions.
16) WUAsshouldfocusoncoreactivities.TheroleofaWUAcanbeidentifiedbyitsmain
functions:
i)
ii)
iii)
iv)

Watermanagementisthecorefunction
Inordertooperatethesystemeffectivelymaintenanceisrequired
Inordertomaintaintheirrigationsystemfundsarerequired
Inordertosetandorganisethecollectionoffunds(viaanirrigationservice
fee)andtomanagetheirrigationsystemintheinterestsofthecommunity,a
communitybasedmanagemententityisrequired(theWUA).

In many cases the capacity building and training of WUAs has focussed on the
governanceandfinancialaspects(rolesandresponsibilitiesofWUAexecutivesand
members, training for treasurers, etc.) rather than the core activity of water
management. If a WUA is formed and meetings are held, but the water
managementdoesnotimprovethenuserswillrightlyquestionwhatisthepurpose
oftheWUAs.
Besidesfactorsofsuccessdiscussedabove,somecommonalitiesfoundinsuccessfulWUAs
areenumeratedbelow:
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3.2

Mechanismformidtermevaluationandcoursecorrection
Dependablesuppliesfromirrigationsystem
Existenceofsocialcapital
Willingnessoffarmerstoworktogether
AttitudinalchangeintheIrrigationDepartment
Nohiddenobjectives
FaithinWUAbytheIrrigationDepartment
Consensusonobjectives
Adherencetoselfimposedrules
Participationofwomen
IncentivesbuiltaroundIMTprogram,atleast,forinitialsuccess
Keen interest by top irrigation bureaucracy and genuine collaboration of field staff
withthefarmers
NGOs for motivating and handholding of farmers to organize, identify opinion
leaders, change agents, registration process, documents maintenance, daytoday
businessandtraining
Democraticfunctioning: written constitution, defined rights,safeguards to protect
women,small,marginalfarmersandweakersectionsofthesociety
Regularmeetingofgeneralbodyandexecutivebody
Legitimacy of WUA: MoU between WUA and Government, extent to which
government consults WUAs and genuine demands of WUAs are addressed by the
government
EngagingprinciplesofchangemanagementinPIM:

PIM envisages that farmers work as equal partners in water management instead of
beneficiary status. It involves acquiring new knowledge, skills and attitude. It threatens
comfort zone of key players and evokes resistance at all levels. Hence it is necessary that
principlesofplannedchangemanagementmaybefollowedtogetthedesiredresults.Inthe
businesssector the following eight steps have been followed for affecting change (Kotter,
1996):
1. Establishingasenseofurgency:
Identifying and discussing crises, potential crises, and cost of inaction and
businessasusualapproachinwaterdevelopmentandmanagement
2. Creatingaguidingcoalition
Nominatingagroupwithenoughpowertoleadthechangeeffortand
Encouragingthegrouptoworktogetherasateam
3. Developingavision
Creatingavisiontohelpdirectthechangeeffort
Developingstrategiesforachievingthatvision
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4. Communicatingthevision
Usingeveryvehiclepossibletocommunicatethenewvisionandstrategiesto
all stakeholders irrespective of hierarchy. At this stage, removing fear,
uncertaintyanddoubtregardingtheirinterestswillbeequallyimportant.
Teachingnewbehavioursbytheexampleofguidingcoalition
5. Empoweringotherstoactonthevision
Gettingridofobstaclestochange
Changingsystemsorstructuresthatseriouslyunderminethevision
Encouragingrisktakingandnontraditionalideas,activitiesandactions
6. Planningandcreatingshorttermwins
Planningforvisibleperformanceimprovementsthroughpilotprojects
Creatingthoseimprovements
Recognizingandrewardingemployeesinvolvedintheimprovements
7. Consolidatingimprovementsandproducingstillmore
Using increased credibility to change the systems , structures, and policies
thatdontfitthevision
Hiring,promoting,anddevelopingemployeeswhocanimplementvision
Reinvigoratingtheprocesswithnewprojects,themesandchangeagents
8. InstitutionalizingNewapproaches
Articulating the connections between the new behaviours and success in
establishingPIM
Developingthemeanstoensureleadershipdevelopmentandsuccession
Intheaboveprocessitisrecommendedthatthechangemanagementprocessstartswitha
groupthatispowerfulenoughtoleadthechangemanagementprocess.InthecaseofPIM
inIndiathisgroupismostlikelytobetheseniormanagementoftheID/WRDandpoliticians,
astheyhavecontroloftheleadorganizationandthefunds,andcan,iftheywish,blockthe
processatanystage.Iftheychoosetoleadtheprocess,astheyhavedoneinsomestates,
thentheyareabletofollowthroughwiththesubsequentchangemanagementprocesses.
For implementation of PIM programme, political will at the highest level is required to
provide legal empowerment of WUAs by either amending prevailing acts and rules or
forming new acts, providing technical guidance and support to the WUAs by Water
Resources/Irrigation Departments, capacity building and training of farmers, WUA office
bearers,fieldstaffandirrigationofficials,andprovisionofadequatefinancialresourcesfor
rehabilitation of the irrigation systems are highly essential. Concerted efforts of irrigation
managers,nongovernmentorganizations(NGOs)andWUAofficebearersarerequiredfor
successful establishment and functioning of WUAs. NGOs play an important role in
awareness creation and motivation among farmers and as a bridge between the
Governmentandfarmers.
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4.0

Identifying feasible areas where PIM can quickly and effectively contribute in
improving water use efficiency (WUE) & agriculture productivity in major &
mediumirrigation(MMI)schemes

4.1

CriteriaforselectionofstatesforimprovingWUEthroughWUAs

Table1:StateswhereWUAsstrengtheningwillbringquickimprovementinWUE
Sl

Selectioncriteria

ExampleStates

Sizeableirrigationpotentialhasbeencreated

AP,Bihar,Maharashtra,UP,Karnataka

GapbetweenIPCandIPUislarge

Bihar,MP,Maharashtra,UP

Stateiscommittedtoirrigationsectorreforms

AP,Maharashtra,Rajasthan,UP,MP

Fastpacedurbanization&industrialdemands

AP,Maharashtra,Gujarat

ID/CADarewithinsamedepartment

AP,Maharashtra,Gujarat,MP

Trainingsupportorganizations/WALMIs/NGOsarerobust

Maharashtra,AP,Gujarat

4.2

ProjectSelectionCriterion

During initial phase of PIM implementation, a lot of multidisciplinary input, sustained


Information, Education and Communication (IEC) campaigns and capacity building of staff
andfarmersarerequired.IDs/WRDsneitherhaveappreciationnorhaveadequatefundsto
takeuptheseactivities.ItisbetteriftheWorldBanksupportedWaterSectorRestructuring
Projectswhichaimatirrigationreformsandhaveprovisionfortheseactivitiesmaybetaken
upandgraduallyIDs/WRDsbeconvincedtoownupandsupportreforms.
4.3

EnablingfactorsatlocallevelsupportingdevelopmentofeffectiveWUAs

Socialdivisionsarenotseriousenoughtopreventcommunicationandjointdecision
makingamongfarmers
Socialtraditionssupportgrouporganizationforirrigatedagriculture,existenceof
producercooperativesandotherruralorganizations
Farmersaredissatisfiedwiththecurrentirrigationmanagementservicebythe
governmentandbelievethatimprovementsinthequalityofirrigationmanagement
couldsignificantlyincreasetheproductivityandprofitabilityofirrigatedagriculture
Farmersbelievethattheseimprovementscanberealizedthroughtheassociations
controloverthemanagementofwaterservices
Farmersbelievethattheirassociationcanreduceorcontainincreasesinthecostof
irrigationtofarmersandimprovequalityofirrigation
FarmersgenerallybelievethatthebenefitsofIMTwilloutweighitscostsandthat
thebenefit/costratiofortransferisroughlyequalamongfarmers
Itistechnicallyfeasibletoimplementthewaterservicewithexistinginfrastructure
orafterpendingimprovementsaremade

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4.4
WaysinwhichPIM/effectiveWUAscanimprovewateruseefficiencyonMMI
schemes
The ways in which PIM and the formation of effective WUAs can contribute to the
improvementofwateruseefficiencyonMMIschemesaresummarisedinTable6below.
Table2:SummaryofmechanismsbywhichPIMandtheformationofWUAscan
contributetotheimprovementofwateruseefficiencyonMMIschemes
No. Possiblemechanism
1.

2.

3.

Explanation

Many traditional smallscale and smallholder irrigation systems


Employmentofwater
master(s)todistributewater worldwide employ water masters to manage and distribute water
betweenfarmers.TheformationofaWUAprovidesthemechanismby
amongstfar
which service fees can be charged and collected to pay the water
mers
master(s). Employing a water master fulltime during the irrigation
season provides several benefits: (i) farmers are given a schedule of
whentheywillreceivewaterandcanplantheirirrigations,(ii)wateris
moreequitablydistributed;(iii)waterisusedmoreefficiently;(iv)field
channelsarebettermaintained,reducingconveyancetimesandlosses;
(v)conflictsoverwaterarereduced.
Farmers can act together to ByactingtogetherthroughtheWUAindividualfarmerscanapplymore
putpressureontheID/WRD pressuretotheID/WRDtoensurethattheygetabetterlevelofservice
foradecentlevelofservice from the ID/WRD. Better levels of service from the main system will
resultinimprovedwateruseefficiencyandagricultureproductivity.
Encouraging
volumetric Thebasicmanagementprincipleis:Ifyoucannotmeasure,youcannot
waterdeliveriesandvolume manage. Encouraging volumetric water deliveries and volume based
based
water
charges charging from WUAs will motivate WUAs / farmers to use appropriate
through irrigation service water and avoid wastage. It will also establish an appreciation for
contract between WUAs economicvalueofwater.
andID
Establishingneedbasedand A large part of wastage on canal systems, particularly at minor and
quick response mechanism distributaries level, occurs due to deteriorated, irregular and
formaintenanceofirrigation unmaintained hydraulic section and growth of weeds/ bushes on canal
system to check evapo banks.Timelymaintenanceandrepairofcanalcanminimizewastageof
transpiration,waterseepage water as well as economise on cost. It will be possible when a local
andwastage.
institution like WUA is enabled to carry out need based repair and
maintenance.
Itisknownthatmaximumwaterlossesoccurbelowoutletlevellargely
Establishinganefficient
duetononexistenceorpoormaintenanceoffielddistributionnetwork.
distributionnetworkbelow
The social engineering skill which is required for conflict resolution on
outletlevel
alignment of water courses and sharing of water is scarce among
ID/WRD/CADA.IfWUAsareenabledtotakeuproleofwaterdistribution
and conflict resolution below outlet level with active support from the
department, the losses below outlet level can be reduced to a large
extent.
Once a regime for volumetric deliveries is established, it will be in the
Unauthorizedwithdrawal,
interest of the department to construct /rehabilitate the control
nonexistent,damagedor
structures and WUAs will be keen to monitor and curb unauthorized
leakingcontrolstructures
withdrawal.

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10

Wherever a mismatch between crop demand at field level and water


supplied from canal occurs and supplied water is in excess of demand,
the excess water is wasted. This situation can be corrected with WUA
making water demand based on crop requirement and department
effectsitthroughoperationalplanandrosterschedule.
Training,capacitybuilding
Farmers avoid risks and rarely deviate from traditional practices unless
andextensionofresearch
they are exposed to learning by doing or learning from peers. The
andtechnologyatfieldlevel. successofFarmerFieldSchoolsandFarmerWaterSchools(asappliedin
other countries and envisaged by FAO in UPWSRP2) in developing a
cultureinwhichwatersavingtechnologiescanworklargelydependson
functionalWUAs/FarmersGroups.
Promotingconjunctiveuse
Ithasbeenwellestablishedthattheconjunctivewateruseoffersmore
efficient irrigation water use and agriculture productivity. Due to
compartmental structure of government departments, its
implementationatfieldlevelisnotpossiblebytheirintervention.WUAs
arebetterplacedtoimplementconjunctivewateruseintheircommand
area(seeSection7belowformoredetails)
Dataonwater
Evaporation,rainfallandgroundwaterleveldatapresentlyavailableto
planners are inadequate, unreliable and not properly georeferenced.
ThedatacollectedbyWU
As during course of their normal activities of water audit, water
budgeting and implementing conjunctive use of water will be reliable
andgivefilliptomicroplanningatthesubbasinlevelwheremaximum
waterwastageisprevalent.

Devising operation plan


aligned with crop water
requirement at various
stages

5.0

Conclusions
Asdiscussedinthesectionsabove,buildingsustainable,selfreliantuserorganizations
is a time and resourceconsumingactivity, which cannot be achievedwithout full and
strongcommitmentfromStategovernmentsandIrrigationDepartments.Acriticismof
theparticipatoryirrigationmanagementprogrammeinIndiatodateisthatithasbeen
mandated on paper, but often not supported in practice with the resources and
expertiserequiredtochangethestatusquo.
Building any organization requires time, effort and resources; formation of effective
waterusersassociationsisnodifferent.EvidenceexistsinseverallocationsinIndiathat
whereadequatetime,effortandresourcesarecommittedviableWUAscanbeformed,
withsignificantbenefittotheusers,andtothewidersocietyinthatirrigationschemes
becomemoreefficientandproductive.
Fromthediscussionandanalysisabove severalkeyfactorsstandout:(i)theneedfor
politicalandgovernmentagencysupport;(ii)theneedforuserdefined,ratherthantop
down, institutional and organizational frameworks; (iii) the need for investment in
training, capacity building and awareness raising of WUAs and water users; (iv) the
need for democratic governance and leadership; (v)the need for a greater focus on
improving water management at the onfarm level; (vi)the need for WUA employed
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fieldstafftomanagewaterdistributionandsystemmaintenance;and(vii)theneedfor
WUAstobeabletogeneratetheirownMOMfunds.
Byfocusingonthesecoreprinciplesprogrammescanbedevelopedwhichprovidethe
necessary support and guidance for water users to establish their own community
based water management organizations which bridge the management gap between
themainsystemrunbytheIrrigationDepartmentandthefieldplotsmanagedbylarge
numbers of smallholder farmers. It is an important role, and one which needs to be
filled if the efficiency and productivity of both land and water resources is to be
improvedongovernmentrunirrigationschemes.

*****

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