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The ITIS network of about 500 professionals in irrigation (managers, designers, researchers) is an informal forum to share and exchange experiences. The focus of the ITIS network has enlarged with time, from the application of information techniques in irrigation systems to the modern management of those systems. Originally supported by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) of Sri Lanka and Cemagref, the Research Centre for Agriculture and Environmental Engineering of France, the network now also enjoys the support of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

The fifth international ITIS network meeting was held from 28 to 30 October 1998 in Aurangabad, Maharashtra, India, with modernization of irrigation system operations as its theme. The meeting was jointly organized by IWMI, Cemagref, FAO and the Water & Land Management Institute (WALMI) in Maharashtra, India, and was sponsored by IWMI, Cemagref, FAO and the International Programme for Technology & Research on Irrigation & Drainage (IPTRID).

The proceedings of the meeting were originally edited by Daniel Renault, ITIS co-ordinator at IWMI, and published by the ITIS network in June 1999. The meeting confirmed the necessity to modernize irrigation system operations in the region and added to the knowledge and understanding of experiences and of the impact of modernization accrued since the FAO expert consultation on "modernization of irrigation schemes: past experiences and future options" held in Bangkok on 26-29 November 1996 (published as FAO Water Report 12).

The conclusions and recommendations made by the irrigation professionals gathered at the meeting represent a significant advance in outlining strategies for successful and appropriate irrigation modernization by focusing on the critical areas of project and programme monitoring and evaluation, understanding of capacity-building requirements and of the interaction between the technical, organizational and institutional changes implied by the modernization of irrigation schemes.

The meeting made an important contribution to the promotion of irrigation modernization. The publication of the proceedings by FAO is to make the results available to a wider audience, particularly to the concerned decision-makers, organizations and professionals of the Asian region for undertaking irrigation modernization programmes in their own countries.


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