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Challenges in Getting off the Ground the New Nicaraguan Water Law: From Farmer Groups to Formalized Irrigation Districts?

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Novo, P.; Garrido, A.; Meinzen-Dick, Ruth
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: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/7306
Sector: Water Resource & Irrigation
Region: Central America & Caribbean
Subject(s): water management
social capital
Abstract: "The Nicaraguan Water Law was passed in September 2007. While all new Water Laws need time to be implemented, the progress in Nicaragua is meager. Nicaragua’s water sector, especially in rural areas, is highly informal and primarily based on small water supply systems and on local informal water institutions. The new Water Law foresees setting up irrigation districts to improve water management in the agricultural sector. Despite the lack of formal users’ organizations, there is evidence of farmer groups sharing and managing common irrigation systems without any formal bonds or statutes. The objective of this research is to assess the challenges in the formalization process of the agricultural water sector in a developing country, such as Nicaragua. Since major water-related problems have already been identified, the new Water Law still faces a number of barriers that may delay its implementation. It is essential to indentify the socioeconomic, institutional and environmental factors that structure incentives for farmers to willingly become involved in a formalization process. The theoretical framework is based on the literature on collective action and social capital. The empirical focus is given by 5 focus groups and 98 surveys hold in the Upper Rio Viejo Sub-basin in North Nicaragua. The study focuses on (i) the problems related to agricultural production that farmers face, (ii) how they are organized for irrigation, (iii) how they perceive public organizations and (iv) the pros and cons of formalizing in irrigation districts. The study attempts to contribute to the Water Law implementation by analyzing both the impact of the Water Law in agricultural water managed areas and the cooperative behavior of the different farmer groups considered in the Upper Rio Viejo Sub-basin."

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