Keywords: SES framework, social ecological systems, vulnerability, adaptive capacity, irrigation management, spate irrigation, external disturbances, Pakistan, institutional change, water rights, ecological dynamics, sustainability, sustainable development
Institutional response to external disturbances in spate irrigation systems of Punjab, Pakistan
Social ecological systems (SESs) - spate irrigation system in our case - operate under an environment of stress due to several external and contextual factors. Spate irrigation systems are more complex due to uncertain flows and can exhibit unexpected changes due to novel shocks. Therefore, actions directed at enhancing robustness to a particular set of disturbances can trigger changes in ecological dynamics that may, in turn, alter the set of disturbances faced by irrigators. This paper looks on the institutional change and resulting water rights and operational rules–in–use in such a context in spate irrigation systems in Punjab province. The sustainability framework (Anderies et al., 2004) has been used for analysis of entities involved in case studies of SESs. The study has important policy implications about how the institutional arrangements imposed from external agencies fail to address new disturbance regimes as the mechanisms remain in place for longer time horizons.