Irrigation impact Assessment report’s recommendations on irrigation water

The Policy and Planning Division of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests published reports a report on Irrigation Impact Assessment with reference to the National Irrigation Policy carried out with support from FAO. The report made the following recommendations.

Despite the emphasis on promotion of improved water management technologies, majority of communities in the case study areas analyzed were not aware of such technologies leave aside adopting them. This limits the opportunities of irrigation to the age old traditional practice of irrigating wetlands and is confined mostly to summer cultivation. Thus, there is a need for increased awareness on adoption of different water technologies in order to ensure assured irrigation for communities interested to intensify land use.

In absence of Water User Associations (WUA) in most of the study sites the emphasis of the policy on empowering beneficiaries through a farmer-centered approach for effective participation at all levels have not been fully realized at the field level. This issue needs to be investigated and accordingly pursued vigorously in instituting WUAs for every irrigation scheme to instil sense of ownership and importance of community participation for irrigation development and sustainability.

The practice of water sharing mechanisms including management is mostly based on age-old traditional system or norms. There is a need to empirically ascertain whether the traditional norms used for water sharing and management are better than those institutionalized through WUAs.

Sustainability of irrigation is dependent on water source. However, in most study sites a little effort is put in to protect the water sources. Therefore, water source protection through plantation initiatives and watershed management need to be encouraged.

Although Irrigation policy stipulates for equitable sharing of water, both the policy and the Water Act are silent on the dispute settlements 25 pertaining to water. As such, challenges are faced in the field to settle disputes related to inter gewog water sharing mechanism. It is therefore recommended that a redressal agency needs to be identified at least at the Dzongkhag level to resolve issues pertaining to inter gewog water sharing mechanism.

In general, the capacity of different stakeholders particularly at the implementation level was reported to be weak resulting to poor delivery of irrigation related services. Thus, as implied in the NIP 2012, it is imperative to revitalize at the same time strengthen the institutional arrangement of irrigation sector for the effective and efficient irrigation services delivery.

Although a comprehensive inventory of irrigation schemes is available for the country as stipulated in the NIP 2012, the M&E of those schemes is weak and information are inconsistent and sometimes it is not available for informed decision making. As such, it is deemed necessary that the information on irrigation being maintained by the department in the irrigation database be accordingly updated.

While it may entail additional costs, field validation of the findings with different stakeholders involved in the study would be important in future.

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