Towards equitable, efficient and sustainable water management
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CTA. 1999. Towards equitable, efficient and sustainable water management. Spore 84. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/46557
Internet URL: http://spore.cta.int/images/stories/pdf/old/spore84.pdf
a CTA seminar entitled Managing water equitably, efficiently and sustainably for agricultural and rural development in sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean which was held in Cordoba, Spain from 20 to 25 September 1999
It is common knowledge that water is more and more scarce, both in terms of quality and quantity. Irrigated crop farming often has to compete over this scarce resource with other important needs of water: domestic consumption in the growing cities, industry and fisheries. However, irrigated agriculture is often the biggest consumer of water. In earlier decades many irrigation schemes led to various social, economic and environmental problems and seldom met their intended objectives, like improving food security. Furthermore, many governments have had to cut back their expenditure and make their bureaucracies more efficient. As a result, many irrigation authorities started to hand over the management, operation and maintenance of irrigation schemes to the users. This transformation has led to the current need to reconsider irrigation practice on a regular basis. This was the broad context for a CTA seminar entitled Managing water equitably, efficiently and sustainably for agricultural and rural development in sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean which was held in Cordoba, Spain from 20 to 25 September. Participants represented the entire spectrum of stakeholders from ACP countries, and were selected as examples of different situations in the management of irrigation. The transformation taking place in the water management development sector is a long-term process, which involves the participation of the entire spectrum of stakeholders. However, their roles, rights and responsibilities first have to be redefined. Although the need to give more responsibilities to water users is acknowledged, they are often not trained or equipped to instantly take over managerial functions nor are they able to make the necessary investments to adapt and maintain the systems. The exchange of information and access to reliable data is also regarded as extremely important. Data are often unreliable and scattered amongst institutions. The following cross-cutting topics were identified by the participants as key factors for the successful transformation of the agricultural water sector: appropriation and guaranteed access to water and land, expression of demand, professionalisation of the stakeholders, development of appropriate regulations, respect for the environment and involvement of women in decision-making. An informative visit to several irrigation communities close to Cordoba complemented the discussions. Irrigation practices in the area, based on the experience of more than a millennium, operate partly by gravity and distribution of water through canal systems and partly through highly modernised sprinkler systems. Participants were impressed by the high standards of technical maintenance and the highly organised irrigation communities. The combination of the seminar, speeches, workshops and field trip shows how irrigation practice has evolved from the notion of a scheme towards a system. Designing a canal system is no longer an aim in itself; government authorities are no longer a sufficient guarantee for success; the term beneficiaries is replaced by actors ; and compulsory systems no longer appropriate. The enriching experience of Cordoba deserves a follow up, with participants taking initiatives in their own countries. This will undoubtedly be inspired by the EU s guiding principles, but also by the need to exchange, compare and explore. Further information: Executive summary accessible on http://www.cta.nl See also: Integrated water resources management: Issues and options in selected African countries. Free of charge By S M K Donkor & Y Wolde, 1998, 81 pp. UN Economic Commission for Africa, PO Box 3001, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org