Delinking of Water Rights Landholding Size in a Farmers' Managed Irrigation System: Question of Efficiency and Equity

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"Water rights in terms of allocation in most of the farmers managed irrigation system are closely related and proportional to the landholding size of farmers. Unlike such common cases, water allocation in Chherlung irrigation system in Palpa district in mid hill of Nepal is based on the marketable water share which is proportional to the contribution made during the construction of the canal. This ethnographic research, combining historical and comparative approaches with spatial methods, investigated the efficiency of irrigation system when water rights are delinked from the landholding size. The study investigated how property rights system has evolved over the years in relation to social changes taking place in the village. It was found that prior rights holders, in such property right systems, have incentives to use water more efficiently and trade the surplus water share, thus increasing the command area of the irrigation system. This case study shows that this structure of water rights not only increases the efficiency of the system but also enhances the equity among the farmers."



water resources, markets, land tenure and use, efficiency, equity