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Water Users Associations in Irrigation Management: Case of Andhra Pradesh, South India

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Nikku, Bala Raju
Conference: The Commons in an Age of Globalisation, the Ninth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Conf. Date: June 17-21, 2002
Date: 2002
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/1035
Sector: Agriculture
Water Resource & Irrigation
Region: Middle East & South Asia
Subject(s): IASC
common pool resources
irrigation--case study
water users' associations
participatory management
collective action
Abstract: "Andhra Pradesh, a southern state in India, has been in the forefront in implementing irrigation sector reforms in the Country. Reforms in irrigation sector are seen as a vital to both the welfare and economic development of the State. The Participatory Irrigation Management Program (PIM), widely known as the AP Model of Irrigation Reforms was initiated with the enactment of the Andhra Pradesh Farmed Managed Irrigation System Act (APFMIS Act) in 1997. The Act enables the transfer of rights over the canal water and its assets to the newly constituted Water Users Associations (WUAs). In the state, 10,292 WUAs have been declared as constituted covering the major, medium and minor systems. The reforms aim to achieve higher production, efficiency and equity. It is widely perceived that the program receives stronger political will and bureaucratic support. The State aims to build the capacity of the newly formed local level institutions in land and water management and transferring the management to these institutions for better. This program is based on the assumption that the transfer of rights from the Irrigation Department to the WUAs would result in better management of the system. This inherently assumes that the transfer of rights to the newly crafted institutions by the State would lead to better management through collective Action. There are institutional and social arrangements, which are responsible to deliver the services to the users of irrigation water in the past. Traditional local institutions (Neerukanti, Klava Pedda) responsible for water distribution and management under canal and tank irrigation lost their presence and relevance when the State came up with the formation of WUAs. As new institutions crafted by the State and empowered by a legislative Act, these new WUAs started functioning at local level with an assured funding from the State in the initial years of formation. The main functions of these institutions as seen by the newly elected representatives were to carry out repairs, rehabilitation of the canal, supervision of the water distribution, settling conflicts if any and raising internal resources to sustain these associations on their own. By bringing successfully a legislation, the State had shown its commitment to transfer the powers and duties of the traditional Irrigation Department to these new institutions to manage and own resources, so that these associations shall function better and be responsible to safeguard the canal resources. The paper documents how the common property resources like canal water and structures are being managed in the past and present, and argue whether the new local institutions are able to address collective Action by acknowledging the equity and livelihood concerns of the resource poor users. The primary knowledge about these institutional functioning, rules and practices could influence in the thinking process and policymaking in the state. The paper concludes the opportunities for the reform processes and presents recent field evidence to highlight the constraints faced for effective collective action in the management of major irrigation systems."

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