Keywords: irrigation development, irrigation economics, irrigation history, irrigation management, irrigation India, irrigation USA
A tale of two developments of irrigation: India and USA
This paper offers a comparative study of economic history of two of the four largest irrigation systems in the world covering a period of about one hundred years, and points out the major lessons learnt from development experiences. This is especially significant since one is a developing country (which was considered a 'more developed' irrigation system a century ago) and the other is a developed country. The detailed analysis focuses on issues including: historical dimensions of the development of major irrigation systems in India and USA; economic criteria for project development; cost recovery and pricing; resource mobilisation; and institutional management. The study does suggest possible management reforms in India, and some of the lessons may also be relevant for several developing countries. The main ingredients of possible reforms include a greater role for water users in project planning and management, local resource mobilisation including financial stakeholding, and improved information systems for operational management.