Water management institutional reform: A representative look at northern China
Our goal is to provide information regarding water management reform in China by increasing understanding of newly emerging water institutions and identifying factors that lead to the creation of reform-oriented irrigation institutions (Water User Associations and/or contracting) in one place but not in another. Using two sets of survey data, one of which is representative of northern China, we find that water management reform has spread steadily. Between 20% and 30% of villages in northern China have shifted away from traditional forms of management. In their places, some villages are hiring individual contractors; others are adopting Water User Associations. While China's new forms of water governance are not very participatory (from the farmer's point of view), water managers--especially contractors--are increasingly being given more incentives to save water and to manage their village's water more effectively. Water scarcity, other village characteristics, and policies implemented by local and regional government water officials are the main drivers of water management reform.
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