Participatory Irrigation Management : comparing theory with practice a case study of the Beni Amir irrigation scheme in Morocco

Abstract : Participatory Irrigation Management (PIM) and Irrigation Management Transfer (IMT) are studied at three levels : the international literature, the policy and action taken in Morocco and field work in the Beni Amir large scale irrigation system. International literature argues that management will improve if users can take management decisions that are the outcome of local negotiations between stakeholders and based on local knowledge and normative frameworks. Since the 1980s, several governments have adopted these turnover programs, often as part of the requirements of a structural adjustment package negotiated with IMF and international development banks. This shows that in many countries the tight financial situation of governments has been important for introducing PIM/IMT. The management transfer from the State to Water Users Associations (WUAs) has been more successfully achieved in some places (Mexico, Colombia and Turkey), than in other places (India, Pakistan, Philippines). Literature provides explanations as success factors for PIM/IMT like relative strength of economy and central government, higher literacy and standard of living. These factors are largely valid for Morocco and thus raises the question about the Moroccan progress in the domain of PIM in large scale irrigation. PIM policy was introduced by the government in 1990 and specified in 1995 as a policy that should be progressively spread, selective depending on location, adapted to the physical and organizational environment, contractual with the water users as partner and finally provide financial advantages for the water users. Field research took place in the Beni Amir large-scale irrigation system in Morocco, situated 200 km south east of Casablanca, where PIM policy became an issue in 1990. In the context of disengagement of the Moroccan state, objectives of the regional government agency responsible for irrigation management in the area (named ORMVAT, Office régional de mise en valeur agricole du Tadla) are to evolve from a complete State management up to farm level, to a more participatory management.Recent field work in which a check list of management tasks performed by farmers was used, showed that, contrary to the policy objectives, WUAs in the Beni Amir system are weakly involved in decision making and hardly perform tasks in irrigation system management. We found that PIM implementation in Morocco does not comply with the theoretical models that have been developed in Mexico, Turkey, the Philippines or elsewhere. This proves the hypothesis that PIM is context-specific which requires that before attempting to implement major institutional reforms in the irrigation sector, it is necessary to understand the national as well as the local context, the opportunities it offers, and the constraints it places on successful institutional reform. Even though local conditions in Beni Amir somehow fit with some points of the theory related to PIM/IMT (i.e. water scarcity should stimulate irrigation reform, the relatively good performance of the infrastructure should permit that IMT programs take off relatively “quickly”, availability of cash money for farmers to pay water fees), PIM programs did not come off the ground in Beni Amir. Case specific reasons that could explain the hesitance of PIM/IMT implementation are i) the irrigated perimeter of Beni Amir, as it is managed nowadays by the ORMVAT, functions relatively well, ii) the society is characterised by relatively strong central rule, iii) rigid labour relations in the civil service and iv) farmers are hesitant to take over the irrigation management.
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Communication dans un congrès
Ali Hammani, Marcel Kuper, Abdelhafid Debbarh. Séminaire sur la modernisation de l'agriculture irriguée, 2004, Rabat, Maroc. IAV Hassan II, 11 p., 2005
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G. Van Vuren, C. Papin, N. El Haouari. Participatory Irrigation Management : comparing theory with practice a case study of the Beni Amir irrigation scheme in Morocco. Ali Hammani, Marcel Kuper, Abdelhafid Debbarh. Séminaire sur la modernisation de l'agriculture irriguée, 2004, Rabat, Maroc. IAV Hassan II, 11 p., 2005. 〈cirad-00188971〉

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