Front cover image for Managing canal irrigation : practical analysis from South Asia

Managing canal irrigation : practical analysis from South Asia

The many billions of dollars invested in canal irrigation in recent decades have had disappointing results. Rarely have projected benefits in well-being or production been achieved. In consequence, in the mid-1980s, further vast sums are being spent throughout the Third World on programmes for rehabilitation, canal lining, on farm development, and farmers' organisation.In this book, Robert Chambers shows that much of this policy and practice is based on misleading research and misdiagnosis. When applied to the complexity and uniqueness of canal irrigation systems, the normal professionalism of civil and agricultural engineers, agronomists, economists, and sociologists, leaves gaps which are keys to better performance. In successive chapters, five such gaps are analysed and presented: main system management, including the scheduling and delivery of water, and communications; canal irrigation at night; management of canal systems jointly by farmers and officials; professional conditions and incentives for irrigation managers; and methods for diagnostic analysis to identify cost-effective actions for improvement.Managing Canal Irrigation has been written for policymakers, irrigation managers, consultants, researchers, trainers and teachers. It challenges all concerned with improving the performance and anti-poverty impact of canal irrigation, whether in government departments, aid agencies, consultancy firms, training and research institutes or universities, to re-examine their beliefs, biases and actions. By going beyond the limits of normal professionalism, the book presents a new syllabus for training, a new agenda for research and development, and points to new policies and to practical action to be taken in the field.
Print Book, English, 1988
Cambridge University Press, Cambridge [England], 1988
xxviii, 279 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
9780521345545, 9780521347884, 0521345545, 0521347882
Poverty, Canals And Commonsense
Potential for the Poor
Poverty in South Asia
Production and livelihoods
Who gains, who loses?
Gains in livelihood
Employment and income
Security against impoverishment
Quality of life
Canal irrigation in South Asia
Area irrigated
Tailend deprivation
Average yields
Thinking about Canal Irrigation
Two questions
Purpose and performance: Objectives and criteria
Perspectives and parts
Activities and linkages
Normal Error
Learning and Mislearning
Mahi-Kadana: seeing parts and missing links
MRP and HBP: failure through success
Islands of salvation
Learning and mislearning
Reflections on research
Determinants of research
Normal Professionalism
The nature of normal professionalism
The challenge of canal irrigation: complexity and transience
Normal irrigation engineering
Engineers and waterlogging: plug, pump and drain
Normal social science
Normal reflexes
The common blind spot
Fixation Below the Outlet
The fixation
Command Area Development in India
New warabandi
Reasons for error
Professional and territorial
A learning process
Professional Gaps As Centres
Main System Management: The Central Gap
A mental blank
Evidence and opinion
Less water than thought
Pros and cons of water to the tail
Practical political economy: can all gain?
Saving water for later
Bad effects of excess water
The paddy lock-in
Less water better delivered
Main system scheduling and delivery
Communication to managers
Communication to farmers
Canal Irrigation at Night
Night blindness
Scale and importance
Night irrigation below the outlet
Farmers' pluses
Farmers' minuses
Factors affecting ease and difficulty
Above the outlet: control at night
Type of conditions
Irrigation performance at night
Practical actions
Reducing irrigation at night
Without water saving
With water saving
Waste and saving
Improving irrigation at night
Making flows predictable and manageable
Improving convenience and efficiency
Choosing easy crops
Zoning for night flows
Phasing for short nights, warmth and visibility
Farmers Above the Outlet
The farmers' frontier: above the outlet
Local negotiation
Construction, capture and maintenance
Spontaneous action analysed
Irrigators' first priority
The jungle
Group boundaries, cohesion and leadership
Too important for partisan politics
Preconditions for action
Farmer joint management
Open meetings
Channel and zonal committees
Project level committees
Propositions and implications
Managers and Motivation
The fourth blind spot
Conditions and incentives
The transfer trade
Effects of corruption
Costs to farmers
Bad physical work
Bad canal management
Indiscipline of field staff
Demoralisation and distraction
Options for reform
Political reform
Separate O and M cadres
Rights and information
Incentives and accountability
Enhanced professionalism
Analysis And Action
Diagnostic Analysis: Problems and Approaches
The last blind spot
Complicating factors
Multiple objectives and criteria
Options for action
Some strategic options
Land: size of area to be irrigated
Location and intensity of irrigation
Crop choice and zoning
Timing: staggering of cultivation
Spatial and temporal cultivation rights
Lift irrigation and conjunctive use
Modes and tools of analysis
Resource-based, top-down
Performance-based, bottom-up
Key probes
Appraisal and diagnostic analysis
Multi-disciplinary, below the outlet (WMSP)
Whole systems (Indian Central Water Commission)
RRAs (Bottrall, Potten and Tiffen)
Options and techniques for appraisal
Planning, preparation and selection
Existing information
Offsetting tourist biases
Interaction and timing
Consultation and considered answers
Action, analysis and appraisal
Practical Action
Three false trails
New construction
Calls for coordination
Normal standard programmes
Three points of entry
Operational plans
Rights, communications and farmers' participation
Performance monitoring and computer analyses
Linkages and sequences
A new professionalism
R and D for gap methodologies
All can act: no need to wait