This paper reports on two action research projects conducted in Nepal, India and Kyrgyzstan between 2002 and 2005 (R8023: Guidelines for Good Governance, and R8338: Equity, Irrigation and Poverty). Their aim was to improve livelihoods through better irrigation governance. The activities were undertaken on seven irrigation schemes ranging in size from 500 ha to 265,000 ha.
The first project addressed general governance issues, highlighting the need to develop skills and relationships amongst water users from all categories, and with their WUA committee members. The second project applied this approach to a specific recurring issue - equitable distribution of irrigation water. Whilst irrigation management and water distribution problems are often perceived to be technical, and hence requiring technical solutions, the process helped participants to analyze the effect of social and institutional factors as well. This enabled irrigation stakeholders to work together to improve the governance of water users' associations and the reliability, predictability and equity of water distribution.
4th Asian Regional Conference & 10th International Seminar on Participatory Irrigation Management, Tehran-Iran, 2-5 May 2007, 21 pp.