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Art12-1-1 (1).pdf

Re-introducing politics in African farmer-led irrigation development: Introduction to a Special Issue

Gert Jan Veldwisch
Water Resources Management Group, Wageningen University, Wageningen, the Netherlands; gertjan.veldwisch@wur.nl

Jean-Philippe Venot
UMR G-EAU, IRD, and University of Montpellier, Montpellier, France; Water Resources Management Group, Wageningen University, Wageningen, the Netherlands; and Royal University of Agriculture, Phnom Penh, Cambodia; jean-philippe.venot@ird.fr

Philip Woodhouse
Global Development Institute, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK; phil.woodhouse@manchester.ac.uk

Hans C. Komakech
WISE – Futures: Centre for Water Infrastructure and Sustainable Energy Futures, Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology, Arusha, Tanzania; hans.komakech@nm-aist.ac.tz

Dan Brockington
Sheffield Institute for International Development, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK; d.brockington@sheffield.ac.uk

ABSTRACT: This introduction is a reflexive piece on the notion of farmer-led irrigation development and its politics. It highlights the way the varied contributions to the Special Issue support a shared perspective on farmer-led irrigation development as a process whereby farmers drive the establishment, improvement, and/or expansion of irrigated agriculture, often in interaction with other actors. We analyse how the terminology is used and reproduced, and what it means for our understanding of irrigation policy and practices in sub-Saharan Africa. A central tenet of our argument is that farmer-led irrigation development is inherently political, as it questions the primacy of engineering and other expert knowledges regarding the development of agricultural water use practices in Africa as well as the privileging of formal state planning or technical solutions. We show how mainstream understanding of farmers’ engagement focuses on (1) regulation and control, (2) profitability, and (3) technical efficiency. We demonstrate how these three perspectives have contributed to depoliticised readings of farmer-led irrigation (development), which has been essential to the ability of the terminology to travel and find global allies. Second, we explore the paradox of the invisibility of farmer-led irrigation development in national policies and practices. We discuss practical and political reasons underlying this silence and point out that there are important advantages for irrigators in not being visible. In conclusion we highlight what can be gained from adopting an explicitly political analysis of the processes through which farmers engage in irrigation on their own terms.

KEYWORDS: Irrigation, farmer-led irrigation development, sub-Saharan Africa, irrigation policies, state planning, expert knowledges

 

 

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Art12-1-10 (1).pdf

Viewpoint – Sustainable and equitable growth in farmer-led irrigation in Sub-Saharan Africa: What will it take?

Nicole Lefore
Texas A & M University, College Station, TX, USA; nicole.lefore@ag.tamu.edu

Meredith Giordano
International Water Management Institute, Colombo, Sri Lanka; meredith.giordano@yahoo.com

Claudia Ringler
International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington, DC; c.ringler@cgiar.org

Jennie Barron
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Uppsala, Sweden; jennie.barron@slu.se

ABSTRACT: The rapid development of farmer-led irrigation is increasing agricultural productivity, incomes, employment and nutrition, but it might well not achieve its full potential. Small-scale irrigators tend to be younger, male and better-off. Women and resource-poor farmers – the majority of farmers in sub-Saharan Africa – are disadvantaged and often excluded from the numerous benefits to be gained from irrigation. Equity in access to water management technologies and practices is constrained by numerous factors, including high investment costs, absence of financial services, poor market integration, inadequate information services, and labour constraints. Lack of institutions for collective management of natural resources, such as water, further restricts access for resource-poor farmers, increasing inequity. In the absence of sustainable natural resources management approaches to agricultural intensification, this situation may become more acute as natural resources become increasingly valuable, and therefore contested. Realising the full potential of farmer-led irrigation requires contextualised policies, institutions and practices to improve equity, markets and sustainability and help ensure that sector growth is inclusive and beneficial.

KEYWORDS: Farmer-led irrigation, agricultural water management, equity, sustainability, sub-Saharan Africa

 

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Art12-1-11 (1).pdf

Gender, water, and nutrition in India: An intersectional perspective

Amit Mitra
Independent Researcher, New Delhi, India; artimtima@gmail.com

Nitya Rao
School of International Development, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK; n.rao@uea.ac.uk

ABSTRACT: Despite the global recognition of women’s central role in the provision, management, and utilisation of water for production and domestic use, and despite the close links between production choices, the security of water for consumption, and gendered social relations, the implications of these interlinkages for health and nutrition are under-explored. This paper seeks to fill this gap. It unpacks the gendered pathways mediating the links between water security in all its dimensions and nutritional outcomes, based on research in 12 villages across two Indian states. The findings point to the importance of the dynamic links between natural (land and water) systems and gendered human activities, across the domains of production and reproduction, and across seasons. These links have implications for women’s work and time burdens. They impact equally on physical and emotional experiences of well-being, especially in contexts constrained by the availability, access, quality, and stability of water.

KEYWORDS: Gender, water, agriculture, nutrition, food security, India

 

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Art12-1-12 (1).pdf

Gender in development discourses of civil society organisations and Mekong hydropower dams

Louis Lebel
Unit for Social and Environmental Research, Science and Technology Research Institute, Chiang Mai University, Chiang Mai, Thailand; Institute of Water Policy, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore, Singapore; louis@sea-user.org

Phimphakan Lebel
Unit for Social and Environmental Research, Science and Technology Research Institute, Chiang Mai University, Chiang Mai, Thailand; phimphakan@sea-user.org

Kanokwan Manorom
Mekong Sub-region Social Research Center (MSSRC), Faculty of Liberal Arts, Ubon Ratchathani University, Thailand; kanokwan.m@ubu.ac.th

Zhou Yishu
Institute of Water Policy, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore, Singapore; sppzhou@nus.edu.sg

ABSTRACT: 'Gender in development' discourses are used to justify interventions into, or opposition to, projects and policies; they may also influence perceptions, practices, or key decisions. Four discursive threads are globally prominent: livelihoods and poverty; natural resources and the environment; rights-based; and managerial. Civil society organisations (CSOs) have been vocal in raising awareness about the adverse impacts of large-scale hydropower developments on the environment, on local livelihoods, and on vulnerable groups including women. This discourse analysis first examines how CSOs engaging in hydropower processes in the Mekong Region frame and use gender in development discourses, and then evaluates the potential of these discourses to empower both women and men. Documents authored by CSOs are examined in detail for how gender is represented, as are media reports on CSO activities, interview transcripts, and images. The findings underline how CSOs depend on discursive legitimacy for influence. Their discursive strategies depend on three factors: the organizations’ goals with respect to development, gender, and the environment; whether the situation is pre- or post-construction; and, on their relationships with the state, project developers and dam-affected communities. The implications of these strategies for empowerment are often not straightforward; inadvertent and indirect effects, positive and negative, are common. The findings of this study are of practical value to CSOs wishing to be more reflexive in their work and more responsive to how it is talked about, as it shows the ways that language and images may enhance or inadvertently work against efforts to empower women.

KEYWORDS: Civil society organisations, gender in development, discourse, representation, hydropower

 

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Art12-1-13 (1).pdf

Breaking out of the governance trap in rural Mexico

Antonio Cáñez-Cota
Catedrático CONACYT-CIESAS-CIDIGLO, Guadalajara, Jalisco, México; acanez@conacyt.mx

Nicolás Pineda-Pablos
El Colegio de Sonora, Hermosillo, Sonora, México; npineda@colson.edu.mx

ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study is to explain the governance trap afflicting water agencies of rural municipalities in the Mexican state of Sonora. This trap is based on hierarchical governance arrangements of low complexity that produce a short-term vision. Organisations are isolated from one another, governance mechanisms are closed, and an atmosphere of distrust prevails among stakeholders, resulting in a lack of coordination and the loss of resources, including water. We show how a multiple-use water services scheme can become a governance trap when it allows the over-exploitation of a single source of drinking water by users who do not pay for the service, in locations where the majority of water users have the ability to pay. The study reviews the evidence of two rural regions in Sonora, Mexico. It explains how a past intermunicipal experience failed, and also suggests how a new scheme of intermunicipal authorities could break such governance traps. Specifically, it provides evidence that in small communities, collaborative large-scale arrangements for water governance are more effective than they are in a single municipality. Building governance capacities within and between water agencies and users would thus be advantageous. Although intermunicipal bodies are more complex than traditional arrangements, requiring additional time and resources for decision-making, they result in more sustainable decisions.

KEYWORDS: Governance trap, intermunicipal water authorities, capacity building, water governance, rural regions, Mexico

 

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Art12-1-14 (1).pdf

Decentring watersheds and decolonising watershed governance: Towards an ecocultural politics of scale in the Klamath Basin

Daniel Sarna-Wojcicki
University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA; dsarna@berkeley.edu

Jennifer Sowerwine
University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA; jsowerwi@berkeley.edu

Lisa Hillman
Píkyav Field Institute, Karuk Tribe Department of Natural Resources, Orleans, CA, USA; lisahillman@karuk.us

Leaf Hillman
Karuk Tribe Department of Natural Resources, Orleans, CA, USA; leafhillman@karuk.us

Bill Tripp
Karuk Tribe Department of Natural Resources, Orleans, CA; USA; btripp@karuk.us

ABSTRACT: The watershed has long captured political and scientific imaginations and served as a primary socio-spatial unit of water governance and ecosystem restoration. However, uncritically deploying watersheds for collaborative environmental governance in indigenous territories may inappropriately frame sociocultural, political-economic, and ecological processes, and overlook questions related to power and scale. We analyse how members of the Karuk Tribe’s Department of Natural Resources have leveraged and critiqued collaborative watershed governance initiatives to push for 'ecocultural revitalisation' – the linked processes of ecosystem repair and cultural revitalisation – in Karuk Aboriginal Territory in the Klamath River Basin. We argue for decentring watersheds in relation to other socio-spatial formations that are generated through indigenous-led processes and grounded in indigenous knowledge and values. We explore two scalar frameworks – firesheds and foodsheds – that are emerging as alternatives to the watershed for collaborative natural resources management, and consider their implications for Karuk ecocultural revitalisation. We attempt to bring watersheds, firesheds, and foodsheds together through an ecocultural approach to scale in which water is one among many cultural and natural resources that are interconnected and managed across multiple socio-spatial formations and temporal ranges. We emphasise 'decolonising scale' to foreground indigenous knowledge and to support indigenous sovereignty and self-determination.

KEYWORDS: Watershed governance, Integrated Water Resources Management, politics of scale, tribal sovereignty, Klamath River Basin, California

 

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Art12-1-15 (1).pdf

Hydrosocial territories in dispute: Flows of water and power in an interbasin transfer project in Bolivia

Rígel Rocha Lopez
Andean Centre for Water Management and Use, San Simon University, Cochabamba, Bolivia; rigel.rocha@umss.edu.bo

Rutgerd Boelens
Department of Environmental Sciences, Wageningen University, The Netherlands; Centre for Latin American Research and Documentation, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands; rutgerd.boelens@wur.nl

Jeroen Vos
Department of Environmental Sciences, Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands; jeroen.vos@wur.nl

Edwin Rap
Integrated Water Systems & Governance Department, IHE-Delft, The Netherlands; edwin.rap@gmail.com

ABSTRACT: This study of the historical development of the Interbasin Irrigation Water Transfer Project Yungas de Vandiola (Proyecto de Riego Trasvase Yungas de Vandiola, PRTYV) analyses the dynamics of hydrosocial territorialisation pursued by rural communities that aim to strategically claim and create water rights. Starting with the project’s initial design proposal, this article describes the subsequent configurations of alternative hydrosocial territories at three key moments in the project’s development. During this process, groups of communities that were initially not included in the project, changed their hydro-territorial imaginaries and forged multi-scalar alliances in response to wider political and cultural developments at the national level. This altered the dominant imaginary of the legitimate hydrosocial territory for the Yungas de Vandiola irrigation project. The article concludes that interbasin water transfer projects (for irrigation) are arenas of profound hydrosocial territorialisation, as they incorporate new water sources and stakeholders with divergent territorial imaginaries and changing multi-scalar alliances.

KEYWORDS: Irrigation project, hydrosocial territories, territorial imaginaries, water rights, interbasin water transfer, power strategies, Bolivia

 

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Art12-1-16 (1).pdf

Not built to last: Improving legal and institutional arrangements for community-based water and sanitation service delivery in Indonesia

Mohamad Mova Al’Afghani
Center for Regulation, Policy and Governance, Universitas Ibn Khaldun Bogor, Bogor, Indonesia; mova@alafghani.info

Jeremy Kohlitz
Institute for Sustainable Futures – University of Technology Sydney, Ultimo, NSW, Australia; jeremy.kohlitz@uts.edu.au

Juliet Willetts
Institute for Sustainable Futures – University of Technology Sydney, Ultimo, NSW, Australia; juliet.willetts@uts.edu.au

ABSTRACT: The community-based water and sanitation provision model has been widely used since the 1990s, proliferating in Indonesia since 2003. Recently, Indonesia has made plans to achieve universal access to water and sanitation by 2019, primarily by using the community-based model. The model, however, has been criticised with respect to sustainability challenges, the excessive burden it potentially places on communities, and for inadvertently undermining local government engagement in supporting services. This paper analyses the legal and institutional arrangements for community-based water and sanitation delivery in Indonesia, and finds four key issues: (i) absence of legal personality, (ii) lack of asset security, (iii) lack of financial security, and (iv) lack of a service standard. These shortcomings could have implications not only in the long-term use of the infrastructure, but also in terms of human rights. This paper explains that such issues are caused by the prevalent “community empowerment” norm. Instead of a hands-off, post-construction government approach where communities are “left alone”, we propose legal reforms relating to these four areas which are in line with a co-management approach, one in which both the government and the community have responsibilities to support and manage service delivery.

KEYWORDS: Community, institutions, water supply, sanitation, sustainability, Indonesia

 

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Art12-1-17 (1).pdf

The critical geopolitics of water conflicts in school textbooks: The case of Germany

Tobias Ide
Georg Eckert Institute, Braunschweig, Germany; and Department of Geography, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel; ide@gei.de

Anna-Katharina Thiel
Chair of International Relations, University of Braunschweig, Germany; a.thiel@tu-braunschweig.de

Itay Fischhendler
Department of Geography, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel; itay.fishhendler@mail.huji.ac.il

ABSTRACT: A considerable body of critical literature has analysed how scientific discussions on water-conflict links are picked up in the political, academic, economic, civil society and media domains. By contrast, there are almost no such studies for the domain of education. This void is crucial as school attendance rates and the prevalence of environmental education are on the rise, while school education has privileged access to young people during their political socialisation. We address this void by analysing the depiction of water conflicts in school textbooks from a critical geopolitics perspective. More specifically, we use a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods to analyse the visual and textual content of German geography textbooks published between 2000 and 2017. Our findings reveal that the analysed school textbooks securitise water and overstate the risk of water conflicts, which could yield a range of negative societal effects. The textbooks further reproduce Orientalist stereotypes about the Global South, and about the Middle East in particular, and often promote an uncritical green economy stance towards the privatisation of water. Water conflicts are hence discussed in the context of a crisis discourse and reproduce powerful knowledge that privileges certain political interests at the expense of others.

KEYWORDS: Conflict, education, geopolitics, textbooks, water, Germany

 

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Petrol pumps and the making of modernity along the shores of Lake Victoria, Kenya

Paul Hebinck
Sociology of Development and Change, Wageningen University, The Netherlands; paul.hebinck@wur.nl

Luwieke Bosma
MetaMeta Research, ’s Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands; lbosma@metameta.nl

Gert Jan Veldwisch
Water Resource Management Group, Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands; gertjan.veldwisch@wur.nl

ABSTRACT: This paper explores how pump irrigation has evolved along the Kenyan shores of Lake Victoria. Over the past two decades access to petrol pumps has allowed small-scale horticultural enterprises to start up and then transform the size, intensity and nature of their production. We analyse the spread of petrol pumps as the assimilation and wider use of a modern device along a mutated trajectory of change. We argue that it was not led by external actors but is a local and self-organised process driven by actors who negotiated interfaces between themselves and those operating at the macro level. The assimilation unfolded not as a temporally and spatially linear process but through its embeddedness in complex and dynamic social relationships that structure access to the key resources required for vegetable production. This in turn has given rise to a range of strategies in which the pumps' performance is adjusted to fit with various socially differentiated contexts.

KEYWORDS: Horticulture, farmer-led irrigation, mutant modernity, farming strategies, pump irrigation, Lake Victoria, Kenya


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Critical governance problems for farmer-led irrigation: Isomorphic mimicry and capability traps

Anna Mdee
School of Politics and International Studies, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK; a.l.mdee@leeds.ac.uk

Elizabeth Harrison
School of Global Studies, University of Sussex, Brighton, UK; e.a.harrison@sussex.ac.uk

ABSTRACT: Irrigated agricultural production is viewed as key to the twin challenges of transforming agriculture and adapting to climate change in sub-Saharan Africa. Farmer-led irrigation is currently not well recognised or accounted for, and the current focus on state or public-private irrigation schemes means this activity is largely occurring outside of formal governance mechanisms or is deemed illegal. How do current institutional and regulatory frameworks relate to the apparent boom in farmer-led irrigation, and how do these shape current patterns of response, support, and regulation? To answer this question, we build a conceptual understanding of water governance which draws on critiques of current institutional frameworks for water and irrigation management, specifically using the conceptual ideas of isomorphic mimicry and capability traps, and elements of a problem-driven iterative adaptation (PDIA) approach. We then use three case studies from Tanzania and Malawi to illuminate three critical problems that state institutions encounter in approaching the recognition and regulation of farmer-led irrigation. In our conclusion we argue that current irrigation governance is creating capability traps for existing institutions. Where incremental and context-driven adaptation of governance is practised this can be avoided, creating better chances of effective support and regulation of farmer-led irrigation development.

KEYWORDS: Farmer-led irrigation development, innovation, governance, Tanzania, Malawi


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Vegetable gardening in Burkina Faso: Drip irrigation and agroecological farming in light of the diversity of smallholders

Basile Gross
Institute of Geography and Sustainability, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland; basile.gross@gmail.com

Ronald Jaubert
Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva, Switzerland; ronald.jaubert@graduateinstitute.ch

ABSTRACT: Small-scale irrigated vegetable production has expanded dramatically in Burkina Faso. Its development can be divided into four periods: the colonial period with the construction of small dams; the boom in reservoir development as a response to drought and famine; the period during which private irrigation was supported; and the current period of new irrigation technologies such as drip irrigation and, to a lesser extent, agroecological vegetable gardening. Since the 1990s, vegetable gardening projects have had a limited impact and irrigation development has been led and financed mainly by farmers. This situation still prevails with current projects, which throws into question their capacity to respond to the needs of family farms. This issue is addressed in the Réo area, where an in-depth survey of family farms revealed a large diversity of situations and livelihood strategies. It became evident from the study that drip irrigation or agroecological gardening can only be adopted by a very small number of family farms. In addressing the problems of smallholders in this regard, development organisations and public policies need to consider their diversity, and adapt accordingly to farming families’ needs and capacities.

KEYWORDS: Vegetable market gardening, irrigation, development project, agroecology, smallholder, family farming, Burkina Faso, Réo


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Development assemblages and collective farmer-led irrigation in the Sahel: A case study from the Lower Delta of the Senegal River

Samir El Ouaamari
AgroParisTech, Paris, France; samir.elouaamari@agroparistech.fr

Nadège Garambois
AgroParisTech, Paris, France; nadege.garambois@agroparistech.fr

Mathilde Fert
AgroParisTech, Paris, France; fert.mathilde@gmail.com

Léa Radzik
AgroParisTech, Paris, France; lea.radzik@gmail.com

ABSTRACT: In Sahelian countries, farmer-led irrigation development has contributed to the extension of irrigated areas in formerly state-led schemes, especially from the 1990s onwards. It has usually consisted of individual approaches, revealing the unequal capacities that farmers have had to develop irrigated agriculture. However, in some cases, farmers have performed collective practices geared towards achieving a more concerted and equitable management of resources. This article is centred on such collective enterprises. It is based on a case study from the delta of the Senegal River. In this region, where state agencies, donors, and investors have set the tone of irrigation development over the last decades, the concerted irrigation development led by the inhabitants of a small village (Thilène) can be considered to be a form of resistance. By drawing on the concepts of 'moral economy' and 'assemblage', and using 'comparative agriculture' methods, we situate the emergence of this collective action in order to understand who has governed it by what means or practices, and to know what have been its outcomes. We see these collective actions as an alternative irrigation development pathway to that led by the state and donors. The results highlight the contingent nature of these initiatives and the difficulties in implementing adapted policies to trigger or boost their emergence.

KEYWORDS: Irrigation, collective action, resistance, assemblage, Senegal


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Irrigating Zimbabwe after land reform: The potential of farmer-led systems

Ian Scoones
ESRC STEPS Centre and Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, Brighton, UK; ians@ids.ac.uk

Felix Murimbarimba
Independent researcher and farmer, Masvingo, Zimbabwe; felixmurimba@gmail.com

Jacob Mahenehene
Independent researcher and farmer, Chikombedzi, Zimbabwe; jacobmahenehene@gmail.com

ABSTRACT: Farmer-led irrigation is far more extensive in Zimbabwe than realised by planners and policymakers. This paper explores the pattern of farmer-led irrigation in neighbouring post-land reform smallholder resettlement sites in Zimbabwe’s Masvingo district. Across 49 farmer-led cases, 41.3 hectares of irrigated land was identified, representing two per cent of the total land area. A combination of surveys and in-depth interviews explored uses of different water extraction and distribution technologies, alongside patterns of production, marketing, processing and labour use. In-depth case studies examined the socio-technical practices involved. Based on these data, a simple typology is proposed, differentiating homestead irrigators from aspiring and commercial irrigators. The typology is linked to patterns of investment, accumulation and social differentiation across the sites. The results are contrasted with a formal irrigation scheme and a group garden in the same area. Farmer-led irrigation is more extensive but also more differentiated, suggesting a new dynamic of agrarian change. As Zimbabwe seeks to boost agricultural production following land reform, the paper argues that farmer-led irrigation offers a complementary way forward to the current emphasis on formal schemes, although challenges of water access, environmental management and equity are highlighted.

KEYWORDS: Farmer-led irrigation, land reform, water control, socio-technical system, Zimbabwe


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Modernisation and African farmer-led irrigation development: Ideology, policies and practices

Chris de Bont
Department of Human Geography, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden; chris.de.bont@humangeo.su.se

Janwillem Liebrand
Water Resources Management Group, Wageningen University, Wageningen, the Netherlands; International Development Studies, Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands; janwillem.liebrand@gmail.com

Gert-Jan Veldwisch
Water Resource Management Group, Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands; gertjan.veldwisch@wur.nl

Philip Woodhouse
The Global Development Institute, School of Environment, Education and Development, The University of Manchester, Manchester, UK; phil.woodhouse@manchester.ac.uk

ABSTRACT: In both Mozambique and Tanzania farmer-led development of irrigation is widespread, yet it is little recognised in irrigation polices and is under-supported by the government. This paper explores how this situation is exacerbated by modernisation ideas in irrigation policy and professional thinking. By means of a historical review, we trace modernisation thinking in irrigation development from the colonial period onwards, and analyse how this thinking continues to play out in contemporary irrigation policies in both countries. We then examine the relationship between modernisation thinking and practices of farmer-led irrigation development, drawing on policy documents, field studies, and interviews in both countries. Based on this analysis, we argue that the nature of farmer-led development of irrigation is consistent with many of the goals identified by state agricultural modernisation programmes, but not with the means by which government and state policies envisage their achievement. As a consequence, policies and state officials tend to screen out farmers’ irrigation initiatives as not relevant to development until they are brought within state-sanctioned processes of technical design and administration.

KEYWORDS:


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Viewpoint – The politics of research on farmer-managed irrigation systems in Asia: Some reflections for Africa

Janwillem Liebrand
Water Resources Management Group, Wageningen University, Wageningen, the Netherlands; International Development Studies, Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands; janwillem.liebrand@gmail.com

ABSTRACT: This article presents a reconstruction of the 1980sʼ research-policy debate on farmer-managed irrigation systems (FMIS) in Asia. Such a reconstruction yields important lessons for the role of academic researchers in the current research-policy debate on African farmer-led irrigation development (FLID). Two interrelated insights stand out: (1) academic irrigation research was (and is) produced in an institutional context that is infused with the politics of the professional tradition in irrigation, and more specifically, (2) academic knowledge on the institutional heterogeneity of farmer-organized irrigation was (and is) incompatible with how things really work in the institution of the irrigation tradition. These insights raise critical questions on the politics of academic research on FLID, whose research agenda is really pursued; what roles do academic researchers want to play, and how to make irrigation research in development more democratic?

KEYWORDS: Irrigation, knowledge, policy, politics of research, farmer-managed irrigation systems, farmer-led irrigation development


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Viewpoint – A hybrid approach to statutory water law to support smallholder farmer-led irrigation development (FLID) in Sub-Saharan Africa

Barbara van Koppen
International Water Management Institute, Pretoria, South Africa; b.vankoppen@cgiar.org

Barbara Schreiner
Water Integrity Network, Berlin, Germany; and Pegasys Institute, South Africa (at the time of research); bschreiner@win-s.org

ABSTRACT: Millions of small-scale farmers in sub-Saharan Africa who are driving farmer-led irrigation development (FLID) have been turned into criminal offenders or, at least, categorically marginalised under widespread water permit systems. Under these systems, small-scale water users are obliged to apply for a permit, but very few have done so, largely because states lack the administrative capacity to inform such large numbers of people scattered across widespread rural areas with this obligation, to process large numbers of applications and enforce conditions tied to permits. Those who use water below a usually very low threshold, are exempted from this obligation, but small-scale farmers are generally above this category. This viewpoint, based on research and policy dialogues in a range of African countries, elaborates an alternative that addresses these injustices: a hybrid approach to water use authorisation. The proposed hybrid approach provides a suite of tools to legalise the water use of smallholder farmers and to overcome the colonial legacy of the side-lining of customary water law. These tools which can be combined and adjusted to suit specific contexts include: permits, targeted at, and enforced for, the relatively few high-impact users; collective permits; non-permit tools, in particular, first, general authorisations with equal or priority legal standing relative to permits and, second, the recognition of customary water law; and prioritisation.

KEYWORDS: Sub-Saharan Africa, water law, legal pluralism, decolonisation, permits, water allocation, customary water law