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The Groundswell of Pumps: Multilevel Impacts of a Silent Revolution

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Molle, François; Shah, Tushaar; Barker, Randolph
Conference: ICID Asian Regional Workshop
Location: Taipei, Taiwan
Conf. Date: November 10-12
Date: 2003
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/5106
Sector: Water Resource & Irrigation
Region: East Asia
Middle East & South Asia
Subject(s): irrigation
water management
Abstract: "In the wake of the 'green revolution' another more silent and crucial transformation is occurring. The dissemenation of relatively cheap pumping technology has revolutionized access to both underground water (deep wells or shallow wells) and surface water (tapping rivers and drains and flows in irrigation canals). Pumps and tube wells have played a prominent role in irrigation in the semiarid regions for many decades. However, with the steady decline in costs, pumps are now, to a large degree, privately owned and have spread rapidly, especially in the monssonal regions of Asia. This has superimposed a logic of individual, flexible, and on-demand access to water, which has far-reaching and, as yet overlooked, implications for the regulation and management of our water resources. The first part of the paper describes the upsurge in the use of pumps and the wide variety of physical conditions and institutional arrangements under which pumps are owned and operated. The second part of the paper, through a series of examples in selected countries, examines the consequences of the spread of cheap pumping technology - water rights and the reordering of access to water, private ownership and collective action, and the implications for integrated managements of privately owned pumps which publicly operated surface irrigation systems. These examples serve as a basis for the conclusion, which spells out the hydrological social, management and economic impacts of the pump revolution."

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