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Water pricing and sustainability of self-governing irrigation schemes

Le Gal P.Y., Rieu T., Fall C.. 2003. Irrigation and Drainage Systems, 17 : p. 213-238.

DOI: 10.1023/A:1025194513819

The sustainability of self-governing irrigation schemes is currently under pressure in many countries as public financial support is decreasing. Furthermore, growing global concern regarding water scarcity means that efficient water use is essential. Theoretically the choice and implementation of a water-pricing system should play a central role in achieving this objective, both by recovering water costs and by encouraging farmers to adopt more efficient behaviour. In the Senegal River Delta newly established water users associations (WUAs) have chosen low water charges, which are affordable for the majority of fanners but which underestimate long-term maintenance costs. Combined with the difficulty of collecting and managing fanners' fees, this choice has drawn them into a vicious circle leading to scheme deterioration and poor water service. New alternatives have been discussed with them using a simulation tool that takes into account both the water costs and the farmers' incomes. Compared with the present fixed water charge based only on cultivated land, a twopart option based both on equipped and irrigated areas ensures the recovery of fixed expenses such as maintenance, while encouraging farmers to intensify their farming systems by adopting double cropping. Nevertheless choosing a relevant water charge does not ensure by itself the sustainability of an irrigation scheme. Combined support providing WUAS and farmers with efficient advice regarding management and organisational skills should also contribute significantly to achieve this prime objective.

Mots-clés : périmètre irrigué; irrigation; aide à la décision; coût; simulation; gestion des eaux; sénégal; fleuve sénégal

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