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PIM: a reality in Asia?




Sinha, Sheel Bhadra, author
Kumar, Raman, author
U.S. Committee on Irrigation and Drainage, publisher

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Agricultural sector has been the largest beneficiary of aid world over and the lions share has gone to irrigation but the benefits have not matched the investment Water is wrongly treated as a free and inexhaustible commodity. The consumption of water has been doubling every 21 years and seventy percent of all water used is utilized for irrigation though half of it only, reaches the crops. Coupled with increased demand from industry and urbanization, there is severe pressure on water now. As signs of ''water stress" is becoming more pronounced, and issues relating to water are assuming political overtones, water has to be treated as an economic commodity and ways and means have to be found for increasing the performance of the irrigation systems. Among the various reasons for the non-performance or under-utilization of the created irrigation potential, non-participation of the beneficiaries and poor upkeep of the system by the administrative and development machinery of the government at the various levels, deserve special mention and attention. "Participatory Irrigation Management" (PIM), where the beneficiaries share responsibility in partnership with the governmental agencies bas now become indispensable for efficient running of a system. It may be pointed out that this approach is not a new one. From time immemorial, the natural resources, in all the civilizations, were treated with respect and there were rigid laws governing their use. It appears that over the passage of time the beneficiaries became indifferent to the use and management of natural resources, causing the government agencies to step in. PIM has taken off in the last two decades in South East Asia where Philippines has been the trailblazer and also in Latin America. The success in Mexico can be attributed to political will at the highest level. Different approach, have been adopted for PIM, but no single model can be adopted as a role model to succeed unless it takes into care the local conditions as well. PIM is not an exact science where, the formulae would be applicable in all conditions. Socio-economic and cultural backgrounds have to be taken into consideration. Applicable pre-conditions in general are: 1. Improvement in irrigation delivery system, 2. Legal rights to farmers, 3. Economic viability of the system as well as the farmers organization, 4. Ensure viable returns of the agricultural produce, and 5. Inculcate sense of responsibility in farmers towards the system.


Presented at the 2000 USCID international conference, Challenges facing irrigation and drainage in the new millennium on June 20-24 in Fort Collins, Colorado.

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