|Design and Operation of Smallholder Irrigation in South Asia (WB, 1995, 134 p.)|
Irrigation is the largest public investment in many countries in the developing world and is a primary area of international assistance. With total World Bank lending of 29 billion in 1991 US dollars, the World Bank has played an important role in financing irrigation investments in the world. The Asia region has been the chief recipient of World Bank lending for irrigation, receiving 70 percent. India, with 27 percent of irrigation borrowing, is easily the largest client. Today, the domestic demand for agricultural products is largely met. This success could not have been achieved without the last half-century's investment in irrigation.
As one of the principal inputs to food production in South Asia, irrigated agriculture continues to play a critical role in achieving food security and poverty alleviation and improving the quality of life. However, the constraints posed by land and water scarcity, population growth, increased demand for water for human and industrial use and rising incomes, and the associated need to raise the carrying capacity of the land in a sustainable manner require efficient and flexible irrigation and drainage systems.
While irrigation development in the region over the last 30 years can claim a considerable degree of success, it has not been without problems, some of which are yet to be solved satisfactorily. The problems do not generally relate to the basic hydrology or hydraulics of irrigation, but most frequently to the poor management of the water resources in the unique smallholder environment of the South Asian region.
This paper presents and discusses the issues that characterize smallholder irrigation in South Asia Land development for irrigation the design and management of water distribution, selection of crops, and the pattern of water use at the farm level must all be viewed in the context of the end user, the small largely independent cultivator. The degree to which the individual cultivator can reasonably be expected to forgo some of his independence in the interests of efficient use of a communal source of water becomes a central issue in the effective design and operation of smallholder irrigation in South Asia.
Agriculture and Natural Resources Department