Cover Image
close this bookDesign and Operation of Smallholder Irrigation in South Asia (WB, 1995, 134 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentForeword
View the documentAbstract
View the documentChapter 1 - Introduction
close this folderChapter 2 - Profile of the smallholder
View the documentFractionation and consolidation of the smallholding
View the documentSmallholder attitude toward farmer-owned and government systems
View the documentCultivator willingness to undertake more intensive cultivation
View the documentSmallholder attitude toward credit
View the documentTheft and vandalism of control structures
close this folderChapter 3 - Land shaping and water distribution at the field level
View the documentLand shaping by the cultivator vs. institutionally
View the documentLand shaping and water management in smallholder irrigation
View the documentLand shaping as a project component
close this folderChapter 4 - Water supply and demand
View the documentDegree of storage regulation
View the documentIntensity of irrigation
View the documentCrop water requirements and crop water response
View the documentEffective rainfall
View the documentThe particular case of water requirements for paddy
close this folderChapter 5 - Cropping patterns in irrigation design
View the documentThe degree of control of selection of crops
View the documentCropping pattern design and project formulation
close this folderChapter 6 - Irrigability
View the documentSoil surveys and land classification
View the documentSoil constituents
close this folderSoils problems on irrigation
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentSaline and alkaline soils
View the documentExpansive days
View the documentGypsiferous soils
View the documentAcid sulphate soils (cat clays)
View the documentPodzols
View the documentLateritic soils
View the documentDune sands
close this folderChapter 7 - Canal systems for smallholder irrigation
close this folderIntroduction and definitions
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentDesigning for variable supply
View the documentVarying demand within the service area
View the documentAllocation of water and establishing water charges
View the documentCapacity of primary and secondary canals and size of irrigation area
close this folderDistribution at the tertiary level
View the documentBackground
View the documentTertiary system design for non-paddy crops
View the documentTertiary system design for areas primarily under paddy
View the documentTertiary system design for mixed cropping
View the documentLayout of tertiary channels
close this folderChapter 8 - Hydraulics of canal regulation and types of control structures
View the documentBackground
View the documentDownstream control with limited demand
View the documentUpstream control with rotational delivery
close this folderHydraulic controls on secondary and tertiary canals
View the documentDownstream control
View the documentUpstream control
View the documentHydraulic controls on primary canals
View the documentProduction of small hydraulic structures
close this folderChapter 9 - Operation and maintenance
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentInadequate budget for O and M
View the documentDesilting of canals
View the documentWeed control in canals
View the documentOperation of partially completed systems
View the documentNight irrigation
View the documentMonitoring of project performance
View the documentApplication of computers to irrigation system operation
View the documentSocial and political pressures in system operation
close this folderChapter 10 - Durability of canal linings
View the documentReasons for lining
View the documentCauses of deterioration canal linings
View the documentConstruction materials for primary and secondary canal linings
View the documentConstruction materials and production methods of tertiary canal linings
close this folderChapter 11 - Construction and maintenance problems of drainage works
View the documentDrainage and the cultivator
View the documentFormal and informal tertiary drainage systems
View the documentSubsurface field drainage
View the documentPrimary and secondary drainage
close this folderChapter 12 - Cultivator organizations
View the documentCultivator organizations in irrigation system operation
View the documentTraditional organization in village-level irrigation schemes
View the documentProjection from the village-level organization to cultivator organizations in public systems
View the documentExperience and problems with water user groups in public irrigation systems
close this folderChapter 13 - Village schemes and small tank projects
View the documentBackground
View the documentFarmer-constructed diversion systems
View the documentVillage schemes with storage
close this folderChapter 14 - Groundwater development
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentSmall, individually-owned, suction-mode wells
View the documentIndividually owned and group owned force-mode wells
View the documentLarge capacity public tubewells
View the documentTechnical problems in design and construction of medium and large tubewells
View the documentWater distribution from medium tubewells
View the documentFunctions of the tubewell operator
View the documentPower supply problems
View the documentComparison of medium and large wells
close this folderChapter 15 - Conjunctive use of surface and groundwater
View the documentDefinitions
View the documentDirect conjunctive use
View the documentIndirect conjunctive use
close this folderChapter 16 - Pumped lift irrigation distribution
View the documentBackground
View the documentThe application of individually owned small pumping units
View the documentCentralized pumped-lift systems
close this folderChapter 17 - Technical and operational improvements in rehabilitation of irrigation projects
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentThe dam and reservoir
View the documentThe canal system
View the documentDrainage
View the documentIntroduction of high technology irrigation methods
close this folderChapter 18 - Ecological and riparian factors in irrigation development
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentEcological issues in groundwater development
View the documentSurface water development
View the documentRiparian issues
View the documentReferences
View the documentDistributors of world bank publications

Experience and problems with water user groups in public irrigation systems

Much effort has been devoted to the organization or irrigator groups in South Asia over the last two decades. It has been a principal area of interest of national and international institutions associated with irrigation development in that region. Water User Groups are operating very effectively in some areas, and very poorly or not at all in others. The differences can be accounted for partly by cultural factors, there being stronger traditions of collective action in some communities than in others. Another factor is the nature of the irrigation supply, its regularity and its importance in relation to rainfall. Where the supply is reasonably predictable and its distribution within the tertiary command is regulated by long-established well-accepted rules, there is little need for formal organization of water users other than for maintenance of the tertiary channel system. On the other hand, where irrigation distribution is complicated by less predictable supply or where it is supplemental to variable rainfall, there is greater need for cooperation between cultivators within the tertiary command with regard to management of irrigation deliveries. Unfortunately, these are also the circumstances which put most strain on the group. To illustrate, if cultivators have planted in anticipation of normal seasonal rains plus regular supply of supplemental irrigation, only to encounter abnormally low rainfall coupled with less than usual irrigation supply, they are unlikely to conform to group decisions regarding sharing the deficiency, however rational such decisions may be. Faced with serious crop loss each individual is likely to take what irrigation he can get, with consequent breakdown of the group and of the tertiary rotation. Breakdown of the rotation may also occur in the wet season if the primary crop is paddy. Irrigation distribution by continuous small flow to each holding may be more convenient to the cultivator than rotational supply, and in most respects may be equally effective. Such a departure from rotation in the wet season may not be of consequence except for the difficulty of reinstating rotation in the dry season, when it is essential. Aside from stresses imposed on group operation by external factors such as deficiencies in supply, there may be internal problems, political and social. A socially or economically powerful individual or sub-group may unduly influence the functioning of a water user group, to the disadvantage of those of lesser standing.

In spite of the difficulties which have been experienced with water user groups, they are regarded as vital to effective operation of smallholder irrigation systems in many situations. The key question is how assistance may best be provided in their establishment and operation, without detracting from their essential autonomy (Byrnes 1992).

In designing an irrigation system, it is not sufficient to simply stipulate the formation of water user groups, if such are required. The necessary support for group formation and assistance with and monitoring of their operation should also be included as essential project components.