Land & Water

Irrigation Reform and Modernization

The fight to greatly reduce food insecurity and poverty continues at the forefront of mankind’s priorities. Irrigated Agriculture is to play an important role in achieving this goal by securing innovative approaches that lead to higher productivity per unit of water, unit of labour, unit of investment or combinations thereof. This can only be accomplished through appropriate reaction and adjustments to emerging worldwide political and development realities concerning the sustainability and increasing competition for the water resource. The ISR home page provides a world-wide forum for identifying and sharing lessons and concerns about the growing global experience with irrigation sector reform (ISR).

One of the most important reforms within the irrigation sub-sector has been irrigation management transfer (IMT). It is the process of devolvement of authority and responsibility from government agencies managing irrigation systems to farmers’ organizations and has been utilized as a tool for irrigation sector reform in more than 60 countries. FAO, IWMI and others partners have made an effort to document and understand the implications of this reform process. A synthesis of all the case studies available through this website has been recently published. It is intended to be a knowledge synthesis document that captures the global experiences. This study indicates that IMT is an approach for irrigation sector reform with the potential to improve the sustainability of irrigation systems. However, in order to reap its benefits, IMT should involve a wider array of changes, including both “soft” and “hard” interventions. The process requires inter alia strong political commitment, negotiations among stakeholders, and long-term capacity development.