Benefits to Irrigation Agency

  • • Improved relations with client farmers; less mistrust;
  • • Reduced complaints on inequitable distribution of water between head reach and tail end;
  • • Increase in irrigation efficiency, job satisfaction;
  • • More time to attend to technical matters and using their expertise;
  • • Less bothering about unauthorised outlets, obstructions and maintenance problems;
  • • Improvement of credibility of the irrigation agency and irrigation officers; and
  • • Better collection of water rates and saving on maintenance cost.


Though the irrigation agency in Orissa has taken a policy decision to encourage farmers participation and attempts are under way to motivate farmers to form WUAs, the farmers response in this regard is not up to the satisfaction. The success of any organisation depends on seven fundamental factors as follows :

  • (i) Felt needs;
  • (ii) Common interest;
  • (iii) Collective effort;
  • (iv) Effective leadership;
  • (v) Bureaucratic commitment of the agency involved;
  • (vi) Political will of the party in power;
  • (vii) Financial viability; and
  • (viii) Legal support.

To remove the inequity and inefficiency in irrigation water use, the farmers should feel the necessity of forming an organisation or association as a remedial measure. It is also important that majority of water users should strive collectively for the formation of WUA. For motivating and organising the farmers there should be capable and popular leaders. The leader should be acceptable to the water users and trust worthy. The irrigation officials should have bureaucratic commitment to the cause of organising farmers to form WUA and to decentralise and delegate power to them. The political party in power should provide all out support for implementing the programme successfully. The WUA should be financially viable by raising its own resources from different sources. There should be necessary amendment of irrigation rules and acts to incorporate the role of WUAs in irrigation management.

Farmers will come forward to form WUAs and will be ready to take up the additional responsibility, if they are convinced that the benefits due to participatory management will exceed their costs of participation. As most of our farmers are not educated and lack vision to comprehend the future benefits due to participation, special care should be taken while motivating the farmers. They are to be convinced that the benefits due to participation will be substantial, tangible, quick yielding and sustainable. Otherwise the farmers will not evince interest in a programme introduced and implemented through a government agency. Though water is the most crucial input required for plant growth, the productivity impact of irrigation depends on use of other yield enhancing complementary inputs like HYV seeds, fertiliser, manure and modern agronomic practices. Therefore, other agricultural inputs should be made available to the farmers in time and as per requirement through WUAs.

It is also argued that in the specific socio-economic context of a caste and hierarchical society whether such collective effort will be forthcoming. Our society is a heterogeneous and hierarchical society having several caste and class cleavages. There are also political differences. The farmers having different political affiliations may have conflicts in interest and differences of opinion. It is a fact that it takes a long time to change peoples attitude and to create awareness about the importance of forming association for better water management. One must have the patience and perseverance to achieve the objective. A learning by doing approach should be followed to determine the model and modalities of forming WUA.

As a matter of fact in agriculture co-operative efforts are necessary, as there are several externality effects. If farmers at head reach use excess water, tailenders face water scarcity; if there is pest attack in one's field, the neighbouring field is affected. Therefore, a rational economic response is to internalise such externalities by making coalition or forming an association.

The WUAs need to have reliable sources of income, otherwise they can hardly be sustainable. Different categories of income to WUAs are :

  • • Sale of water;
  • • Sale/leading out common property resources;
  • • Fees and contributions;
  • • Commercial operations;
  • • Maintenance Contracts; and
  • • Subsidies.
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