Since the early 1990s, the Chinese water sector has undergone an important institutional reform that has shifted major responsibilities in irrigation management from the government toward water users, organized in so-called Water User Associations (WUAs). Such participatory water management is not only assumed to increase water use efficiency, but also to stimulate the incomes of member households. This study aims to provide empirical evidence of the impact of participatory water management on WUA performance and farmer incomes, using data collected for the year 2007 among 317 households and 35 WUAs in Minle County, Gansu Province. We find that having democratically elected leaders has a positive effect on WUA performance, by increasing investment levels and improving canal quality. Participation in decision making, however, has a significant negative impact on canal quality and does not affect other WUA performance indicators. Two aspects of WUA performance, investment levels and financial health, are found to have a positive impact on the farm income of member households, while water use per mu has a significant negative impact on farm incomes. We find evidence that households belonging to better performing WUAs increase their farm incomes at the expense of non-farm income. The resulting net impact of participatory water management on total household income is not significant for the households in our sample.
|Publication status||Published - 2010|
|Event||2010 Annual CES Congres - |
Duration: 19 Jun 2010 → 21 Jun 2010
|Conference||2010 Annual CES Congres|
|Period||19/06/10 → 21/06/10|