Public Policy as a Means to Increase Human Security in Agriculture in a Drought-Prone Area of Northern Chile

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"This paper examines the effectiveness of present Chile long-term irrigation public policies aimed at increasing human security through investment in irrigation infrastructure in the Limarí River basin, a drought-prone area of northern Chile. The Limarí River basin is located in the semi-arid region of Chile, where sixty percent of years receive bellow-normal precipitation. According to precipitation records that span for more than a century, this basin has experienced a decrease in annual rainfall. Human economic activity and security in the area is related to climate variability and access to water for irrigation, and is being controlled to a great extent by access to capital and technology. As a means of securing agricultural activity, public policies related to the development of irrigation infrastructure (i.e., dams and canals) were put in place in the area in the early 1920s. At the present time no large infrastructure is being built in the basin, but there is a set of so-called economic instruments designed by State agencies aimed at fostering irrigation efficiency and adoption of irrigation technology at the farm level. In this paper we present preliminary results of a recently conducted research effort aimed at establishing the relationship between public policies in irrigation and agricultural development and poverty alleviation in the Limarí Basin in the Region of Coquimbo in northern Chile during the period 1980-2000. Results show that different categories of farmers (i.e., large, medium and small) have had access to these State sponsored instruments and that they have been a key means in securing agricultural activity thus rising human security in this dryland agricultural area via increase in agricultural production and/or employment."



irrigation, policy analysis, drought, security, agriculture, river basins, water resources, water management