Improving Irrigation in Asia

Improving Irrigation in Asia

Sustainable Performance of an Innovative Intervention in Nepal

Elinor Ostrom, Wai Fung Lam, Prachanda Pradhan and Ganesh P. Shivakoti

Improving Irrigation in Asia is based on a longitudinal study over two decades on innovative intervention for sustained performance of irrigation systems. The work identifies key factors that can help explain the performance of interventions, and explicates lessons for resource management and the management of development assistance.

Chapter 2: Effects of Different Modes of Assistance on the Performance of Farmer-managed Irrigation Systems in Nepal

Elinor Ostrom, Wai Fung Lam, Prachanda Pradhan and Ganesh P. Shivakoti

Subjects: asian studies, asian development, business and management, management and sustainability, development studies, agricultural economics, asian development, development studies, economics and finance, agricultural economics, institutional economics, political economy, environment, agricultural economics, asian environment, environmental geography, environmental management, water, politics and public policy, political economy


It is well documented that thousands of irrigation systems in Nepal are managed by the farmers themselves and that some of these farmer-managed irrigation systems (FMIS) have been in operation for centuries. Moreover, it has long been accepted by policymakers and donors that financial assistance is crucial in helping the farmers to construct permanent diversion structures, to line key parts of a canal and to undertake other capital-intensive work in order to improve the technical efficiency of these irrigation systems. Furthermore, examples of recent interventions exist where assistance programs have been designed to improve institutional capacity of these local irrigators through enhanced social capital as well as effective self-governance mechanisms. Consequently, a number of different aid programs or interventions that aim to enhance FMIS performance by improving their physical infrastructures have been undertaken in Nepal. Despite the similar objectives of the intervening agencies, however, the consequences of these interventions have varied substantially. Given the increasing emphasis on the importance of intervention in improving irrigation performance, it is of great concern to assess why there is a variation of performance associated with the different types of intervention. In this chapter, we will first briefly overview the history of irrigation development in Nepal and will describe the agencies that are involved in the extensive interventions as well as the processes of intervention. In the next section, we will discuss the rationale of a study of 229 irrigation systems in Nepal and some methodological procedures used in this study. Next, we will discuss...

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