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Social, cultural, institutional and policy constraints

P. van Hofwegen, Senior Lecturer Irrigation Management, International Institute for Infrastructural, Hydraulic and Environmental Engineering, Delft, The Netherlands


Theme and background

Irrigation scheduling is the process used by the irrigator to decide when to irrigate the crops and how much to apply. It is a means of optimizing agricultural production while conserving water and is one of the key activities that has the potential to improve the performance and sustainability of irrigation systems (Chambers, 1988; Wade and Seckler, 1990). Effective irrigation scheduling requires reliable and timely water delivery through coordinated action between the supplier and the user. However, allocation and delivery of water, particularly in large canal systems, is much more complex and difficult than commonly recognized. It involves complicated social, organizational, legal and economic questions in addition to the technical matters. This paper is devoted to these questions. The aim of the paper is to identify bottlenecks of a socio-economic, cultural, institutional and policy making nature that affect the application of available water-saving irrigation scheduling methods, and to identify solutions to overcome them.


Five sub-themes have been identified. The first sub-theme is on regulations and rules-in-use in irrigation scheduling and water delivery. Regulations or working rules are used to determine who is eligible to make decisions, what actions are allowed or constrained, what procedures must be followed, what information must be provided, and what costs and pay-offs will be assigned to individuals as a result of their action (Ostrom, 1986). In irrigation management, these rules concern water rights, cropping arrangements, water allocation, water delivery and distribution, management arrangements and cost recovery. Implementation of these rules depends on the level of user participation upon creation, the effectiveness of the control system and the existence of a reliable and effective accountability mechanism. Lack of control and accountability will result in local changes in the use of these regulations. These are the rules-in-use and they are not directly observable. The activities organized by these rules can be observed. These are affected by the formal laws or administrative procedures like many shared understandings that have evolved locally. Some of these understandings may stand in direct opposition to formal legislation or administrative procedures (Ostrom, 1992). These regulations, their control and accountability systems and the rules-in-use determine the level of success of the application of irrigation scheduling. Contributions with cases from Pakistan, India, Indonesia and Morocco have come from Bandaragoda (1996), Pundarikanthan and Santhi (1996), Van Hofwegen et al. (1996), Steenbergen (1996) and Vermillion and Brewer (1996).

The second sub-theme is on costs and incentives for farmers to apply water-saving irrigation scheduling, the effect on the profitability of irrigation and the impact of measures like liberalization of cropping and pricing of water. Tollefson and Wahab (1996) state that without economic or social incentives for scientific scheduling, adoption of technical and real-time scheduling procedures has been slow or non-existent. Panoras and Mavroudis (1996) describe the effect of changing water pricing policies on irrigation scheduling and on water use efficiency. Introduction of water-saving irrigation scheduling will also mean a change in the rules and regulations. This often requires additional investments, not only in hardware, but also in time and relations. Not all of these costs can be expressed in monetary values. The social cost (transaction cost) related to the development of a new set of rules for water delivery and distribution might be too high and the changes will not happen. The papers of Bandaragoda (1996) and Steenbergen (1996) illustrate the effect of these costs on the process of changing water delivery and distribution in Pakistan. Vermillion and Brewer (1996) report that reliable water delivery is crucial: 'farmers felt that this was the level (distributary canal) at which most of the problems with water distribution occurred and that until this was improved, there was little incentive for farmers to organize and invest in irrigation management at the field channel level'.

The third sub-theme is on water users associations and the impact of their participation on flexible water delivery and irrigation scheduling. Farmer participation in development and improvement of irrigation schemes has been promoted for several years. The results of these participatory approaches are becoming increasingly available. Most authors acknowledge the need for participatory approaches if water-saving practices are to be introduced. Vermillion and Brewer (1996) report on the use and effects of Participatory Action Research in cases from Indonesia and India. Cheng (1996) reports on the role of the water users in China in adjusting the engineers' irrigation schedule into an acceptable, practical and water-saving schedule.

The fourth sub-theme deals with the effectiveness of service agreements between users and suppliers on reliability of water delivery and water-saving irrigation scheduling. A service approach requires a reliable and adequate accountability system. The components of such a system are: (a) a clear definition of the services to be provided, (b) measurement of the services provided, (c) an internal audit to verify the accuracy of the measurements reported, and (d) an external sanctioning mechanism for appeal. Burt (1996), Van Hofwegen et. al. (1996) and Pundarikanthan and Santhi (1996) advocate the introduction of a service oriented management system and consider it an important means for improving reliability of deliveries, necessary to enhance irrigation scheduling practices.

The fifth and last sub-theme concerns the capability and willingness of water users to pay for an improved service of water delivery. Improved services (more reliable, more flexible) will require additional management inputs and, hence, will be more costly. The cost recovery associated with this enhancement requires attention. What are the additional costs of service, what is necessary to recover these costs and are the farmers willing to pay for these additional services? Unfortunately very little attention has been paid to this basic question. Only Van Hofwegen et al. (1996) comment on this item.


Irrigation policies are the government strategies related to the development and management of irrigation schemes. These policies comprise water rights, cropping arrangements, water delivery policy, cost recovery and system management arrangements. Water delivery policies are the policy choices made on water delivery leading to regulations and procedures for water allocation, delivery and distribution.

For the planning of water supply to the farmers or groups of farmers by the irrigation agency the term used will be water allocation. The process of water allocation is done on two levels. Seasonal water allocations is the planning on a seasonal scale, and periodic water allocations for the planning of the day-to-day operations.

The term water delivery will be used as the supply of water by the irrigation agency to individual or groups of users at the interface of water control between the supplier and user(s). This interface can be the farm gate in the case of direct supply from the irrigation agency to the farmers, or the tertiary offtake or sluice gate if water is delivered to a group of farmers or water users association. The term water distribution will be used for the distribution between farmers in one tertiary unit or below one outlet by the users of the water supplied by the agency. The term irrigation scheduling will be used for the planning of water applications to the crops by the irrigator.


Irrigation scheduling concepts

Burt (1996) distinguishes two concepts of irrigation scheduling: the agronomic concept and the water delivery engineers' concept. The agronomic concept of irrigation scheduling is to apply water to the crop in the correct amounts and at the proper times to maximize crop production and/or profit, while maintaining a reasonably high irrigation efficiency. Maximum flexibility in delivery is required. Ideally, irrigators should have direct access to water so they can react adequately to changes in the soil moisture situation, optimize their irrigation schedules and synchronize them with other on- and off-farm activities. However, this is not the case in most irrigation schemes. The often limited amount of available water has to be shared with other irrigators. Elected farmers, a water users association or an irrigation agency are entrusted with the task of managing this limited amount of water for an equitable and efficient delivery. To plan under such circumstances for effective and efficient use of water, the irrigator and supplier require information on the actual irrigation needs and the time and amount of water to be supplied in terms of flow size, duration and interval.

The water delivery engineers' concept of irrigation scheduling is to develop and implement a schedule of water deliveries which is compatible with the water delivery system's capabilities and constraints, with the least amount of trouble. This means simple operation rules and procedures and results in limited flexibility.

Whatever concept is applied, the success or failure of the irrigation system is determined by the supply of water to the individual farmers at the farm gate. This requires good communication between supplier and irrigator and a clear set of rules and regulations for acquisition, conveyance, delivery and distribution of water. Moreover, an accountability mechanism needs to be in place to ensure that these rules are obeyed. These rules are made in different forums. The irrigation agency develops a set of rules related to water allocation and delivery to the users or user groups. The users develop their own set of rules for distribution of water among themselves. A water users association (WUA) performs this function at the tertiary unit level in smallholder schemes where the number of farmers is large. Often the field staff and farmers develop their own informal rules for water supply from the main system. This shows the need for communication between water users and suppliers so that planned and actual delivery and application of water can take place in a meaningful way. Therefore, it is necessary to complement these two irrigation scheduling concepts with a third one: the 'institutional' concept.

The institutional concept of irrigation scheduling is to develop and implement a schedule of water delivery and distribution which is based on a set of rules accepted and adopted by the supplier, the distributor and the user. These rules reflect the social and power arrangements among and within farming communities, their water rights and capability to adjust the distribution of water to their socio-cultural situation. It is desirable to combine these concepts by developing water delivery and water distribution policies which are accepted and adopted by suppliers, distributors and users, and which extract the most flexible and reliable performance available from the water delivery system. The resulting rules will restrict the flexibility of water supply to the individual users and, hence, the potential for flexible irrigation scheduling.

The framework

In the framework (Figure 1), three levels of operation are distinguished: the main system for water acquisition, conveyance and delivery to the tertiary units; the tertiary system for water distribution among farmers; and the field system for water application. Each of these levels has its own management authority respectively: the irrigation authority; formal or informal group of organized farmers or water users; and the individual farmer1. Water is delivered by the irrigation authority to a group of farmers who distribute this water among themselves according to certain formal or informal rules devised internally themselves or with accepted outside assistance. The scheduling practice thus completely depends on when, where, how and how much water is delivered by the authority and distributed by the farmer group.

1 Horst (1996) discerns three major parties according to functional lines involved in irrigation practice: (i) planners/designers (irrigation agency, consultants, donors), (ii) operational office staff (irrigation agency staff in headquarters, provincial and district office), and (iii) operational field staff and farmers (at tertiary and secondary level).

Irrigation development, especially in large schemes, is usually the responsibility of government agencies as part of an overall development plan with specific objectives. Within this framework of development objectives, irrigation agencies are assigned to develop a physical and management infrastructure to deliver water at the interface with the users. Policy choices made at this planning level are on water rights, cropping arrangements, water delivery arrangements, cost recovery, and system management. The group of water users will decide on their water distribution arrangements, how cost will be recovered and how they will manage their system. Individual farmers will decide on crop selection, use of agro-inputs and labour, irrigation method, water application system and irrigation scheduling method. These choices are not made in isolation but an interaction will occur between the various levels regarding their choices. Based on these options, an infrastructure will be chosen that fits their purpose and is accessible to them. All choices are based on the management environment which includes legal, social, economic and institutional components.

The policy choices of government, irrigation agency, farmer groups and individual farmers are the first set of limitations on the potential of flexible irrigation scheduling. A second set of limitations is the translation of these choices into infrastructure, organization and rules and procedures to manage the infrastructure. The actual implementation can deviate considerably within the infrastructure, operation, maintenance and management rules, This demonstrates the rules-in-use and forms the third set of limitations.

Policy choices are usually made at the beginning of irrigation development. Changes in policies usually require changes in infrastructure and organization. It will be clear that often a compromise has to be made between the requirements posed by the new policies and the capability of the infrastructure posing an additional set of limitations.



Application of irrigation scheduling starts with a process of planning of what is desired and possible on both user and supplier system level. It decides upon which procedures and technology are suitable given the aims and objectives formulated in the irrigation policies.

FIGURE 1 - A framework for irrigation scheduling

Successful irrigation scheduling must be simple to understand and implement and acceptable from both the farmer and management personnel standpoints (Burt, 1996; Horst, 1996; Mangano, 1996; Hill and Allen, 1996; Tollefson et al., 1996). Practical irrigation scheduling policies must also recognize that hydraulic, weather, crop and soil conditions are variable and dynamic. Irrigation scheduling programmes must be strong enough to withstand physical and human uncertainties (Burt, 1996).

Application of irrigation scheduling methods depends on irrigation policy choices, the level of acceptance of the planned methods by the operators and the farmers and the capability of the infrastructure.

The main constraining factors in irrigation scheduling are water delivery and water distribution. Water delivery from the main system to the group of users is based on a set of policy choices which relate to water rights, crop regulation, cost recovery and management. Based on these choices, an irrigation infrastructure is developed which consists of the hydraulic system, the management organization and the rules and regulations on operation.

In their paper, Van Hofwegen et al. (1996) give a description of the policy choices made in the water scarce Triffa Scheme in Morocco and their impact on the flexibility of on-farm irrigation scheduling. The possibility for flexible water delivery required for water-saving irrigation scheduling in the Triffa scheme is constrained by several policy choices. The first policy choice is payment of water based on volume consumed. Farmers receive an agreed volume of water per irrigation cycle, released at a fixed rate (20 or 30 l/s) through an agency managed turnout. Usually there are a number of farmers below one turnout. They take the flow in turn and for a duration according to the schedule as agreed with the water master. They are individually charged by the agency for this volume of water delivered at their turnout.

The second policy choice is to have the scarce amount of water distributed by the agency in an equitable, efficient and effective (= productive) way. Depending on the water availability and requirement, management decides on the implementation of an irrigation cycle, its duration and the volumes per hectare to be applied for the various crops. This requires farmers to follow the established schedules, which have been prepared in different degrees of participation depending on the water availability.

The third policy choice is to have a gravity scheme with a mixed automatic flow control system in the main canal and a manual upstream control system in the laterals. More flexible delivery to the farmers might result in a more efficient use of water at the on-farm level but will probably increase operational losses in the main system considerably. Moreover, the irrigation fees do not allow increased staffing levels for more flexible delivery. Increased fees are said to present a problem for the competitiveness of the produce on local and international markets. It is unlikely that farmers are willing or able to pay for such extra services, since there is already a considerable level of government subsidies.

Bandaragoda (1996) describes the policy choices made as a basis for irrigation development in Pakistan. The irrigation network is designed to give 'protective' irrigation extensively over a large gross command area. The reason for keeping the 'water allowance' relatively low was to maximize the number of settlers on newly irrigated land, but the original design also assumed a cropping intensity of about 75 %. Water delivery was arranged in warabandi rotation schedules which aim to apportion the water shortage equitably, allowing farmers to respond to the available water with appropriate cropping patterns. These supply driven rotation schedules leave little room for flexibility in irrigation scheduling.

Pundarikanthan and Santhi (1996) present constraints due to policy choices in the water short region of Tamil Nadu, India. A localization policy for cropping is applied where command areas are localized as 'wet' (for water intensive crops like paddy rice, sugar cane, banana) and 'irrigated dry' (for crops such as groundnuts, onions and cotton), leaving crop choices to farmers. The consequent diversified cropping system under the same sluice makes irrigation scheduling a difficult task in the field, considering the controls available in the field. Main system schedules and on-farm schedules do not match, especially because distribution below the sluice is on rotational basis. Moreover, planning and design concepts are based on duty (expressed in acres per cubic feet per second). Delivery of water according to the crop water requirement requires interventions in the physical infrastructure to match demand and supply. A systematic scheduling based on a service agreement is very important and has been successfully experimented with community organizers.

Mangano (1996) states that irrigation scheduling is important for optimizing the use of water resources where irrigated agriculture has a long tradition. However, in new schemes this should be deferred to a later stage when farmers have fully accepted the irrigation practices and are ready to follow more flexible rules.

Planning for irrigation scheduling not only requires a sound hydraulic and operational basis but also well functioning irrigation authorities (institutions) with shared responsibilities and a high level of mutual accountability. This can probably be achieved by the introduction of service oriented irrigation management. Clear agreements between users and suppliers, like the cases of Morocco and India, indicate that scheduling becomes possible and delivery performance improves. These aspects have to be included in the preparation of the irrigation policy during the planning stage.


Horst (1996) emphasizes in his paper the discrepancy between irrigation scheduling following soil-water-plant relationships and water delivery. He gives several reasons why such an irrigation scheduling approach often fails:

· Planners and designers aim at full regulation throughout the system. Inappropriate structures, however, were often chosen.

· Operation office staff made complicated schedules: excessive data collection, processing and dissemination combined with lack of staff and measuring capability results in just a paper exercise only.

· Operation staff, often poorly trained, are confronted with an impossible task. Real cropping patterns differ from those assumed in irrigation scheduling. Moreover, the loyalty of field staff lies primarily with farmers, and they are often used to accommodating the wishes of various groups of farmers.

Cheng (1996) reports that a high level of professionalism in terms of design and construction of water conveyance facilities has been achieved. However, on-farm water management was not as satisfactory as it should be. Farmers were dissatisfied with the irrigation service because the system was designed and operated in a top-down, centralized manner by engineers for the convenience of engineers. It delivered water on a fixed rotation schedule with limited attention to the needs, skills and wishes of the farmers. This resulted in low efficiencies, water wastage and reduction of the irrigated area (to 80% of potential).

Vermillion and Brewer (1996) describe the problem of the discrepancy for two cases in Indonesia and in India. In Indonesia, inequitable and inefficient water distribution was caused by inefficient and cumbersome gate operation requirements and lack of control on implementation. In India, farmers lost confidence in the irrigation authority due to lack of control and communication, unreliable supplies due to unauthorized tapping by farmers in the upstream reaches, a lack of farmer involvement and an erratic presence of staff in the area.

Bandaragoda (1996) explains that the reason for this discrepancy in Pakistan is the erosion and collapse of the conditions that made the warabandi function well. He attributes the collapse of the warabandi to the combined effect of a change in the value system and a general breakdown in the overall institutional responsibility for the management of irrigation systems. The systems became dysfunctional, and a vicious circle set in with the physical and human sub-systems acting on each other to cause a rapid performance decline.

In conclusion, for a successful implementation of irrigation scheduling, a properly functioning irrigation authority is required with capable planners, designers and operators working with, and accountable to, the water users.

Changing irrigation schedules

Steenbergen (1996) presents three cases of changing traditional irrigation schedules in small-scale locally managed irrigation systems in Pakistan. The reason for the changes was to increase irrigated area by increasing efficiency through a process of farmer consultation and participation. These cases show that although farmers acknowledge the potential for improvement, a very rigid and system-specific irrigation schedule will not be easily changed; instead of a revision, the schedules will be kept acceptable by 'muddling through', primarily through inter-individual adjustments, such as exchanges and transfers of water turns between two users or within a subgroup of users. The step from local economic opportunities to local institutional change is not always obvious. Non-economic considerations, conflicting interests and the question of who takes the initiative may stand in the way. Changes that bring a small benefit to all people may not necessarily materialize in contrast to changes that bring significant benefit to few.

Ankum (1996) states that, due to gradually changing operational objectives, a mismatch with the flow control method is often met. Many supply-based systems (e.g., India and Pakistan) cannot be easily shaped into 'crop based systems' since the relative capacities must be increased and water availability ensured. Moreover, upstream control for a semi-demand allocation must rely on strong central management. Problems encountered with such changes are illustrated in Bandaragoda (1996). He reports that to arrest the erosion of warabandi, attempts have been made to inject the ailing systems with technological inputs. They became increasingly ineffective when confronted by low accountability and policy inertia regarding institutional reform. He states that the cardinal mistake of the planners was their failure to anticipate the required institutional changes for coping with the new irrigation management technologies they hoped to introduce. The design was based on broad assumptions for a shift from the traditional irrigation options:

· the presence of institutional capacity or adaptability to undertake this shift;

· the flexibility of the users to adjust to a pattern of variable supply;

· harmony and uniformity of the social background to resolve disputes and to develop rules and methods for water distribution.

This clearly shows that changing established irrigation scheduling practices must be accompanied by a process of institutional reform to cope with the new management requirements.


The problems mentioned refer to overly complex irrigation scheduling systems for the managing institutions. They are often insufficiently equipped to carry out their task satisfactorily. A first approach is to simplify the irrigation scheduling methods. A second one is the use of farmer participatory approaches in the improvement of system operations. A third approach lies in improvement of the capability of managing institutions. A final approach suggests the acceptance of rigid delivery and the introduction of flexibility at the farm level.


Horst (1996) argues that improvement of present approaches, such as the introduction of new irrigation scheduling techniques, training, organizing water users groups, etc., will remain cosmetic surgery as long as the fundamental problems of over-complicated irrigation schedules requiring over-complicated water division structures resulting in cumbersome operation are not addressed properly. Automation will result in fewer but very highly skilled operation and maintenance staff requirements. He therefore advocates a simplification approach based on the 'Additional Operation Requirements' (AOR) concept. Apart from crop requirements, water is needed to facilitate a fair and simple water distribution: 'you need water to save water'. A constant discharge over the whole growing period for rice or a stepwise variation for non-rice crops. Fixed proportional distribution might provide an adequate technological solution if AOR is taken into account. The loss of AOR will be compensated for increased overall efficiencies and unequal distribution will decrease. In this concept no allowance is made for variable rainfall. Moreover, a strong institution is required that sees to the proper implementation of the proportional distribution.

Mangano (1996) confirms the findings of Horst (1996). He proposes to start in new schemes with simple irrigation and defer scheduling to a later stage when farmers have fully accepted the irrigation practices and are ready for more flexible rules. He counters the argument that 'modification of acquired bad habits is an impossible task'.

Burt (1996) proposes allocation of known and reasonable volumes of water to minimize water wastage. When the volume is used up, there is no more water forthcoming unless the farmer can purchase water from other farmers. There must be an ability to withhold water from farmers once they have utilized their allotment. Moreover, the water volume must be provided in a fashion that it is usable and beneficial. If a volume is allocated, but that volume is only available in an unreliable or untimely manner, the programme will fail. Panoras and Mavroudis (1996) show in their paper that the introduction of volume-based irrigation charges in users operated pump irrigation schemes reduced the consumption of water and supported water saving scheduling practices.

Participatory approaches

In their paper, Vermillion and Brewer (1996) describe two cases of participatory action research (PAR) involving farmers, agency staff and researchers which facilitated a change in irrigation operations and produced significant improvements in performance. The first case is an innovation in dry season rotational irrigation in the Maneugteung Irrigation System in West Java, Indonesia. The second case involves the creation of a farmers' distributary canal committee and the introduction of new operational procedures for enhancing equity and management control in the Paliganj Distributary Canal of Sone Command in Bihar, India. It showed that if planned change does not involve both sound technical analysis and participation of key stakeholders in decision-making, the outcome will probably be neither optimal nor capable of mobilizing the needed support of farmers and agency staff. The communications between farmers, agency staff and the PAR team revealed a common interest between farmers and agency staff in altering the configuration of rotation blocks, changing the timing of rotations and expanding the role of farmers in a new rotational arrangement. The option was selected on the basis that it would provide the best mix for improvement in equity, efficiency and control through farmer participation. Participants recognized that an attempt to maximize any single performance dimension would seriously compromise another dimension, hence optimization was needed.

Cheng (1996) states that farmers' involvement in irrigation management is an important means for people to become aware of and select solutions for their own problems. It contributes much to the improving of irrigation service. It is very important for the implementation and success of water-saving irrigation scheduling. The success of any measure (intervention) to save irrigation water depends on the understanding and acceptance of the beneficiaries. In order to be effectively involved in the implementation process of water-saving irrigation schedules, farmers should be well organized.

Institutional development (capacity building)

Bandaragoda (1996) suggests that the introduction of irrigation scheduling will have to be preceded by a change in the attitudes, policies, awareness and the institutional framework of irrigation management. This change will not occur easily or quickly. A strong vested interest among influential individuals to keep existing institutional arrangements intact is the greatest obstacle to change. Yet, alternative strategies need to be developed for introducing new technologies to replace or modify the traditional water delivery systems which are crumbling under the stress of changing socio-economic conditions. These strategies should ensure that the benefits of new technologies of water delivery and irrigation scheduling reach the more disadvantaged groups among the water users. Encouragingly, there are some efforts in both policy and research, currently under way in Pakistan, to develop viable institutional strategies for more productive and sustained irrigated agriculture.

Burt (1996) states in his presentation of some guidelines for establishing irrigation policies, that 'agencies should be cognizant of the fact that their responsibility is to provide a service, not to dictate schedules. The only way this concept of service can work is if the water delivery system is broken down into levels of service'. He states that when the concept of service is wholeheartedly adopted by project staff, amazing agronomic and social improvements can be made.

Proper selection of hardware

Ankum (1996) provides a methodology to translate water delivery policies into physical infrastructure. He assumes that the social and institutional implications of water delivery are basically covered in the choice of water delivery policy. He identifies three fundamental factors which determine the operational objectives of a flow control system: (i) the decision-making procedure (who decides on water allocation to the tertiary unit); (ii) the method of water allocation; and (iii) the method of water distribution. In the further selection of flow control methods, an evaluation mechanism in the process is introduced to check the technical solution with the social and institutional environment.

To stimulate water-saving irrigation practices, flexibility of irrigation scheduling and a reliable and flexible water delivery are necessary. Flexibility in scheduling is sometimes obtained downstream from the offtake with on-farm reservoirs, or with conjunctive use of well water by combining rigid delivery from the main system with flexible additions from these sources (Burt, 1996; Van Hofwegen et al., 1996).


1. Irrigation scheduling requires the willingness and capability of farmers to apply it; the capability of the infrastructure to deliver water accordingly; and an irrigation service willing and able to realize such delivery.

2. Successful irrigation scheduling must be simple to implement and understand by both the farmer and project management personnel. A simple water delivery policy combined with on-farm storage or conjunctive use will facilitate flexible scheduling.

3. Effective irrigation scheduling requires good communication between those responsible for water delivery, water distribution and water application. Involvement of farmers, agency staff and researchers in problem identification, proposing solutions, implementation and evaluation is essential to achieve proper results.

4. Irrigation scheduling requires reliable and timely delivery of water, which can be achieved by service oriented management. Service agreements and reliable and effective accountability mechanisms are essential tools.

5. Participatory Action Research can be an effective tool for resolving water delivery and distribution problems and for developing service agreements and accountability mechanisms.

6. Planning for improved scheduling needs to look at the capability of institutions on the main as well as the tertiary level, to cope with the envisaged methods. Effective scheduling requires strong institutions with a well-functioning accountability mechanism backed by enforced laws and regulations. Introduction of irrigation scheduling or changes to irrigation scheduling methods must be accompanied by social organization and institutional reform (capacity building).

7. Introduction of water-saving irrigation scheduling must be done in a conducive environment where policy choices support the required flexibility in water delivery. If not, flexible delivery will result in more complicated scheduling procedures requiring higher quality levels of staffing and/or automation.

8. Cost recovery based on volumetric payment can be a useful means for introducing effective irrigation scheduling. This helps to develop effective accountability mechanisms, enhance system performance and improve water use efficiency.

9. The limited flexibility in hardware (flow control system) and software (staff, procedures, payment, cost recovery) limits the flexibility of water delivery to the users. An improved and more flexible delivery would mean a considerable increase in capital and operational costs. It is unlikely that, under circumstances where water rates are determined by the government and do not fully cover the cost for system management, farmers will be prepared to pay for this additional service.

10. The assumption is sometimes made that when resources are user controlled, changes towards more efficient use will come about automatically. The examples from Baluchistan demonstrate that such changes do not necessarily occur and relates the lack of change to the specificity of the schedules, different gains from the change and the importance of objectives other than improved irrigation water management.


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