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Need for & limitations in the application of information technology
to the irrigation sector in developing countries

Er S.G. Shirke, Director
A.R. Suryavanshi, Professor and Head, Science Faculty
A.V. Chandorkar, Professor

Water and Land Management Institute, Aurangabad, Maharashtra, India


Water scarcity and competition is the main issue in developing countries as far as water resources development and management is concerned. The per capita availability of water is decreasing day by day due to population growth. The demand for water is rising for increased food production, further industrial development, better standards of living, etc. The per capita availability of water in India has shrunk by 53 percent in the last 40 years, i.e. since Independence. It is projected that it will have shrunk by 72 percent by 2025 (Engelman et al, 1993). Agriculture is the major consumer of water in the country. The overall efficiency of irrigation projects is generally not very satisfactory. This indicates that there is much scope to improve efficiency so that additional water is released for irrigation as well as other purposes.

Using information technology, including the adoption of modern control in the operation and maintenance of the irrigation system, is one of the ways to improve efficiency. The authors see the use of information technology as computerization of water resource and irrigation management.

The government of Maharashtra has introduced the use of information technology on some of the projects with the assistance from external agencies (World Bank, USAID, etc) and sundry experts. The details given below point to the teething trouble any developing country may face in the initial stages of computerization. It is however very significant that ultimately it is the use of modern information technology that will lead to the best performance of the system.

Performance evaluation of information technique projects

Reasons for the higher costs and inadequate performance of the trial projects

The results of the above case studies point to the fact that all the modern technology developed elsewhere or recommended by expatriate consultants cannot necessarily be put to use directly under the local conditions. The possible reasons for this are as follows:

Steps recommended for the effective application of information technology

The appropriateness of technology plays a vital role in the ultimate success of any scheme. This encompasses a wide range of parameters such as suitability to local conditions, acceptability by beneficiaries, economic viability and so on. The following suggestions address these parameters to inculcate appropriateness while introducing commercial viable information technology in irrigation projects.


The application of information technology to irrigation projects is the need of the day. Procedure and workable solutions may differ from project to project and from country to country. Modern information technology is a useful tool to enhance efficiency provided that it is applied with appropriateness to suit reality on the ground.


Biswas A.K. 1996. Capacity-building for water management: some personal thoughts, in Water resources development, Vol12, No4, 399-405

Engelman R and Lekoy Pamela. 1993. Sustaining water, population and the future, in Population action international. Washington DC

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