Equity, Irrigation and Poverty. Guidelines for Sustainable Water Management. Final Report and Appendices.


The aim of the study was to identify and test methods to improve access to water, particularly for poor farmers on large-scale irrigation projects. Attempts were made to understand the technical, social and institutional factors which make equitable water management difficult, in representative case studies, and then to elucidate how, and to what extent water users' associations can actually ensure an equitable supply of water to all users. This was implemented over one calendar year (2004) in the Kyrgyz Republic, India and Nepal, on a small number of irrigation schemes which were originally government managed but where the responsibilities for water distribution at a local level have now been devolved to user organisations.

This report synthesises the findings from several case studies, and is structured as follows:


Introduction and background
- Introduction (Chapter 1)
- Statement of the problem - background to water users' associations (WUAs) in the study countries, understanding the relationship between access to water and livelihoods, the problems caused by inadequate water management, and technical, conceptual, and methodological issues to be considered when addressing these problems

(Chapter 2)
- Methods - selection of study sites and description of the methods we followed during the study

(Chapter 3)
- Overview of case study sites - natural resources, infrastructure, social context and institutional arrangements

(Chapter 4)
Analysis of case studies
- Relation between livelihoods and irrigation management

(Chapter 5)
- Management arrangements - implementation and performance, and the relationships between water users and water users' associations

(Chapter 6)
- Water distributions systems

(Chapter 7) and the achievements in equitable distribution

(Chapter 8)
- Processes adopted for improving access to water in this project (Chapter 9)
- Outcomes of the study : implications for reducing poverty through improved water management

(Chapter 10)
Synthesis of findings
- Summary of findings and outline of recommended approach

(Chapter 11)
- Practical measures to promote equitable and sustainable management

(Chapter 12)
Appendices provide further details of the study, as follows
-Logical framework for the study (Appendix A)
-Irrigation management reform in China: a review of progress with WUAs (Appendix B)
-Legal and policy background to water management in Nepal (Appendix C)

-Development and performance of WUAs in Ningxia Province, China (Appendix D)
-Quantitative data on water distribution in study sites in Nepal and Kyrgyzstan (Appendix E)
-Livelihoods - supporting data (Appendix F)
-WUA action plans, minutes and reports (Appendix G)


Howarth, S. Equity, Irrigation and Poverty. Guidelines for Sustainable Water Management. Final Report and Appendices. (2006) 280 pp.

Published 1 January 2006