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How do smallholder farmers organize themselves to manage small-scale irrigation schemes?

Author: 
Habtamu Worku, Mohammed Adem and Dessalegn Beyene
Subject Area: 
Social Sciences and Humanities
Abstract: 

Irrigation schemes are essential policy options chosen by the government to eradicate poverty and secure food security in Ethiopia. Areas which faced erratic rainfall should expand irrigation projects that enable them to have high agricultural productivity. Irrigation has a great impact on the livelihood of rural community where agriculture is the bedrock of their life. To see the positive effect of irrigation on livelihood, therefore, it is important to understand how farmers or irrigation scheme beneficiaries organize and cooperate in order to manage issues in relation to water management, conflict management and canal maintenance. However, the managerial aspect of irrigation is overlooked and high emphasis has been given to construction of irrigation dams and handover to the users. Therefore, the main aim of this study was to understand how smallholder farmers organize themselves to manage small scale irrigation schemes with reference to Qorrir Small-scale irrigation scheme, Tigray, Ethiopia. In order to carry out this research, a multiple of data collection techniques such as household questionnaire, focus group discussion and key informant interview were employed. In order to analyze the already collected data, both qualitative and descriptive analysis techniques have been used. In the result of the study, it is understood that the water committee is responsible for water allocation and distribution, coordinating canal maintenance activities and conflict management in the irrigation scheme with support from development agents and extension workers. However, the water committee was found to be inefficient in managing water distribution in terms of adequacy, timeliness and equity in the supply of water. According to the research result, conflict within and between groups was persistent due to water scarcity, water theft, lack of proper control of water distribution and increasing number of user that created competition. The irrigation scheme was expected to irrigate hundred hectares. However, since a significant number of beneficiaries (61.7%) have faced acute shortage of irrigation water for their agricultural activities, its capacity to irrigate has limited to fifty hectares.

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