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Smallholder Irrigation Schemes: A Common Property Resource with Management Challenges

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Samakanda, I.; Senzanje, A.; Mjmba, M.
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/10535/2328
Sector: Agriculture
Water Resource & Irrigation
Region: Africa
Subject(s): IASC
common pool resources
irrigation--case study
water resources
Abstract: "Smallholder irrigation schemes are common property resources (CPR) faced with various challenges in the use of productive water. This is more so in the light of integrated water resources management, water reform, leading to water being regarded as an economic good and the default handover of the schemes to farmers by government. The sustainability of smallholder irrigation schemes is depends on performance of the irrigation scheme, which in turn is hinged on adherence to CPR concepts. This paper reviews the challenges faced by farmers in smallholder irrigation schemes, with respect to CPR concepts in trying to make use of productive water to sustain their livelihoods. The study considers three irrigation schemes, namely Chakohwa, Nenhowe and Gudyanga irrigation schemes, all in the lower Odzi sub-catchment. The schemes have different technologies that require different levels of organisational intensity, and offer varying challenges to operation and maintenance. Water in these irrigation schemes is regarded as the most limiting factor to production; hence its management is regarded as crucial. The role played by various stakeholders (ZINWA, Agritex and farmers) in irrigation management is reviewed. The way farmers respond to common purpose issues like servicing their electricity bills, maintaining their canals is also considered against a background of their agronomic performance. Common property resources have to be shared equally to avoid chasms within the resource users/ managers. Irrigators at all times want to receive their share of the water so that they feel secure about the investment made (purchase of seeds, fertiliser, labour and energy). Farmers who feel prejudiced in resource allocation feel less motivated; invest less, perform poorly and do not contribute to operation and maintenance costs, which result in the scheme deteriorating. An understanding of how farmers and institutions try to balance the facets of smallholder irrigation management will help in coming up with recommendations for CPR principles that need to be engaged for improved sustainability of irrigation schemes."

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