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Sustainability analysis for irrigation water management: concepts, methodology, and application to the Aral Sea region

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  • Cai, Ximing
  • McKinney, Daene C.
  • Rosegrant, Mark W.

Abstract

Sustainable irrigation water management should simultaneously achieve two objectives: sustaining irrigated agriculture for food security and preserving the associated natural environment. A stable relationship should be maintained between these two objectives now and in the future, while potential conflicts between these objectives should be mitigated through appropriate irrigation practices. Lessons learned from unsustainable water management practices around the world demonstrate the necessity—and growing urgency—of applying sustainability principles to water management in river basins where irrigation is a major factor. This paper presents the operational concepts and analytical framework for sustainability analysis of irrigation water management in irrigation-dominated river basins. These are applied to the Aral Sea region in Central Asia, a region famous for its conflict between sustaining irrigated agriculture and preserving the environment. Maintaining current irrigation practices will lead to worsening environmental and economic consequences. Infrastructure improvements and changes in crop patterns will be necessary to sustain the irrigated agriculture and the associated environment in the region. A penalty tax on salt discharge, as an economic incentive, may help address environmental problems while having only a small effect on irrigation profit.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in its series EPTD discussion papers with number 86.

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Date of creation: 2001
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Handle: RePEc:fpr:eptddp:86

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Keywords: Irrigation Environmental aspects.; Water quality management Economic aspects.; Central Asia.;

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  1. Rosegrant, Mark W. & Ringler, Claudia & McKinney, Daene C. & Cai, Ximing & Keller, Andrew & Donoso, G., 2000. "Integrated economic-hydrologic water modeling at the basin scale: the Maipo river basin," EPTD discussion papers 63, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  2. McKinney, D. C. & Cai, X. & Rosegrant, M. W. & Ringler, C. & Scott, C. A., 1999. "Modeling water resources management at the basin level: review and future directions," IWMI Books, Reports H024075, International Water Management Institute.
  3. Svendsen, M., 1987. "Sustainability in irrigated agriculture," IWMI Books, Reports H002853, International Water Management Institute.
  4. Tsur, Yacov & Dinar, Ariel, 1995. "Efficiency and equity considerations in pricing and allocating irrigation water," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1460, The World Bank.
  5. Seckler, D., 1996. "The new era of water resources management: from "dry" to "wet" water savings," IWMI Books, Reports H018206, International Water Management Institute.
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