Pursuing the state’s hydraulic mission in a context of private groundwater use in the Izmir Province, Turkey

Selin Le Visage
Paris Nanterre University, UMR LAVUE; and UMR G-EAU, Cirad, University of Montpellier, Montpellier, France; s.levisage@gmail.com

Marcel Kuper
G-EAU, Cirad, University of Montpellier, Montpellier, France; and IAV Hassan II, Rabat, Morocco; marcel.kuper@cirad.fr

Jean-Philippe Venot
G-EAU, IRD, University of Montpellier, Montpellier, France; WRM Group, Wageningen University; and RUA, Cambodia; jean-philippe.venot@ird.fr

Murat Yercan
Department of Agricultural Economics, Ege University, Izmir, Turkey; murat.yercan@ege.edu.tr

Ela Atış
Department of Agricultural Economics, Ege University, Izmir, Turkey; ela.atis@ege.edu.tr

ABSTRACT: Since the 2008 global food crisis there has been renewed interest in irrigation infrastructural development, which has sometimes been taken up by the same agencies that developed large-scale surface irrigation in the 20th century. This article presents a case study of the recent '1000 small dams in 1000 days' programme in Turkey to analyse the continuities and ruptures in the way the development of surface irrigation infrastructure is conducted by the state. The comparison of two small dam projects in the dynamic agricultural province of Izmir shows how the irrigation administration is pursuing its hydraulic mission, sustaining its expertise and strengthening its authority. The development of infrastructure goes beyond irrigation objectives, as it materialises the iconic power of the state in rural areas by rapidly providing visible results. However, the development of public irrigation is taking place in a very different context from that of the 20th century. The state faces farmers who are already using groundwater for irrigation and hence challenge the hierarchical organisation of public surface irrigation schemes. Although the irrigation administration continues to dictate the terms of irrigation development, it acknowledges these changes by engaging in pragmatic discussions with farmers, who are no longer mere 'beneficiaries' but actively engage in negotiations to play a significant role in the management of newly built irrigation infrastructure.

KEYWORDS: Small dams, conjunctive use, irrigation associations, irrigation cooperatives, bureaucracy, control, Turkey