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The implications of state intervention for self-governed irrigation schemes: Insights from Tigray, Ethiopia

Oates N., Hisberg A., Rodríguez Ros J., Solomon H., Ludi E., Marlet S., Jamin J.Y.. 2020. Irrigation and Drainage, 69 (1) : p. 88-99.

DOI: 10.1002/ird.2121

The development of smallholder irrigation is a policy priority in Ethiopia, yet little consideration has been given to the role state interventions play in enabling or constraining effective self-governance in farmer-managed schemes. To address this gap in evidence, research was conducted in Tigray, northern Ethiopia, in two irrigation sites. Focus group discussions and semi-structured interviews with key informants were the primary means of collecting data on local institutional arrangements, government interventions and management challenges. An opinion poll provided additional insights. Our case studies indicate that effective self-governance cannot easily be crafted by external actors. The introduction of modern irrigation technologies and formalized management arrangements has fostered dependency on external support and increased state influence in key decision-making processes, whilst traditional water user associations remain largely autonomous but have little access to financial resources. State interventions have also been poorly tailored to local context with negative consequences for performance, although there have been some successes where traditional arrangements for water management have been integrated into new institutions. The incorporation of farmer perspectives into performance assessments could facilitate more responsive interventions, and remains an important area of irrigation research and practice.

Mots-clés : gestion des eaux; irrigation; intervention de l'état; petite exploitation agricole; changement technologique; association des usagers de l'eau; politique de l'eau; enquête; Éthiopie

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