Farmers actions and improvements in irrigation performance below the Mogha : how farmers manage water scarcity and abundance in a large scale irrigation system in South-Eastern Punjab, Pakistan

R. Wahaj

    Research output: Thesisexternal PhD, WU


    <p>The irrigation systems of Punjab, Pakistan are not functioning effectively in relation to design criteria or farmers' needs. This under-performance is attributed to among others, scarcity of irrigation water, changes in cropping intensity and mis-allocation of available resources. Presently irrigation system management in Pakistan is undergoing institutional reforms- to introduce Participatory Irrigation Management with involvement of new Farmers Organisations in water management- that is expected to result in improved water distribution performance and financial sustainability of the system. This study was conducted to investigate the impact, value and capability of farmers' local water management actions in a large-scale canal irrigation system, to contribute in the wider debates about Participatory Irrigation Management and sustainability of groundwater use in such schemes in Pakistan.</p><p>An interdisciplinary, socio-technical approach was used as the main methodological approach for this study. A comparative study method was used to analyse farmers' actions for water management. The research was undertaken in the Fordwah Irrigation System, which serves a command area of 232,000 hectares. Six watercourses along the two distributaries (at the tail of the system) were selected for in-depth study. Fieldwork was conducted between November 1996 to April 1998. Water delivery performance was measured at the outlets of these watercourses. Collective and individual water management actions were studied to understand their dynamics and their impact on improving water delivery to the farm.</p><p>The study suggests that there is neither a standard set of water management activities nor they are strictly planned, in the study area. Farmers' actions are mostly subject to their desires to match water demand with supply, however one can still see some of the water management activities that are inevitable to operate the system. The actions taken and the way and time these activities are organised and performed is difficult to predict in advance. Collective action is undertaken more at the watercourse or higher level in the irrigation system, whereas individual actions are mainly undertaken at the farm level.</p><p>The four main findings of the study are: 1) that farmers are knowledgeable and capable actors who take actions that improve water supply and compensate for dysfunctional delivery; 2) farmers actions are not only technically and economically sound but also have motives other than just economic benefit; 3) farmers' management cannot be classified as 'contingent management' and is rather performance-oriented; and 4) current performance indicators, which are not able to show realities of social relations shaping water availability, could be improved by including criteria to assess performance of irrigation system from the perspectives of different actors. By incorporating the way farmers intervene with the system and thus appropriate the water delivery, such new performance studies could portray local water dynamics of a system and support recommendations based on reality to improve the functioning of the irrigation system.</p><p>The patterns of conjunctive water use at the farm level suggest that in future groundwater must continue to provide significant amount of water for crop production. Farmers already organise management actions in the irrigation system: new Farmers' Organisation may improve the accountability of these to other farmers.</p>
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • Wageningen University
    • Vincent, L.F., Promotor
    Award date5 Dec 2001
    Place of PublicationS.l.
    Print ISBNs9789058084972
    Publication statusPublished - 2001


    • irrigation water
    • water management
    • participation
    • farmers
    • pakistan

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