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National Legislative Framework for Water User Associations Out of Sync With Traditional Institutions

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Palerm Viqueira, Jacinta; Montes, A.
Conference: Sustaining Commons: Sustaining Our Future, the Thirteenth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of the Commons
Location: Hyderabad, India
Conf. Date: January 10-14
Date: 2011
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10535/7181
Sector: Water Resource & Irrigation
Region: Central America & Caribbean
Subject(s): equity
irrigation
water users' associations
Abstract: "The central question is how does the existence, change and continuity of a national legislation framework for irrigators’ institutions facilitate or block an effective self governance. The 1992 Mexican water law called for changes in water user associations that are slowly being implemented, these changes have to do with re-drawing the boundaries of the water user association (usually, but not always, smaller), with displacement of village community authority and with an institutional vacuum at river or even canal level. Field work on several case studies has shown that, in spit of the changes, irrigators seem to maintain the traditional management. From the government perspective, notwithstanding that water management is said to be a national priority, there is little interest in strengthening traditional institutions; government field operatives rather insist on the peasants’ failure to comply with the new legislation. However, in Mexico, traditional institutions seem to be capable of circumventing government directives that would impinge on effective irrigation water management.Effective institutional design (and a corresponding national legislation framework) has to start by recognizing the users’ existing institutions and their capacity to build on these institutions; as well as recognizing the costs of ignoring traditional organizations."

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