Repository logo

Water users association governance in developing countries: fragility and function




Yap-Salinas, L. Humberto, author
U.S. Committee on Irrigation and Drainage, publisher

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Transfer of irrigation system management from government to water users has been taking place in developing countries for at least three decades. Various methods and degrees of transfer have been employed. Overall, the concept of transfer has been good, with benefits both to the central government and to the water users, who generally receive the transfer as members of organized water users associations (WUAs). Indeed, organizing water users into associations holds out much hope for farmers in developing countries. Similarly, modernizing agricultural technology is a must for these WUAs in order to produce competitively for global markets. However, technological modernization cannot be effective without robust water users association governance. Many WUAs start out well, but some of them lose strength and/or become embroiled in debilitating problems later. This paper focuses on lessons learned in WUA organization and growth in developing countries, particularly those in which the International Irrigation Center of Utah State University has been involved during the last three decades. Underlying problems in irrigation system management transfer and in WUA organization and function are examined, along with post-project difficulties that can occur. Ways to make WUAs robust, effective in meeting production and community needs, efficient in management of water resources, and sustainable as functioning representative entities are discussed.


Presented during the Third international conference on irrigation and drainage held March 30 - April 2, 2005 in San Diego, California. The theme of the conference was "Water district management and governance."

Rights Access



Associated Publications