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Emerging Issues in The Implementation of Irrigation and Drainage Sector Reforms in Sindh, Pakistan


  • Junaid Alam Memon

    (Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, Islamabad)

  • Usman Mustafa

    (Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, Islamabad)


This study analysed the implementation of institutional reforms seeking a paradigm shift from the state to a farmer-managed irrigation and drainage system in Sindh Province of Pakistan. The required information was taken from a one-page profile of 354 Farmer Organisations (FOs) and in-depth interviews with the key officials and farmers. The findings revealed that out of 14 Area Water Boards (AWBs) and 1,400 FOs, only three AWBs and 354 FOs could be formed and transferred the management responsibility of their respective channels. All of the farmers, having land irrigated by an irrigation channel, were by default general body members of the respective FO. The average landholding size of the largest and smallest landholder in a FO was 98 and 3 hectares in NC-AWB, 84 and 2.5 hectares in GC-AWB and 176 and 5 hectares in LBC-AWB. The unequal land distribution caused differential social and political power of the farmers in the agrarian society and thereby had the implications for the participatory irrigation management (PIM). Although, the available information did not permit a rigorous analysis of the large landholders’ capture of FO Management Committees (MCs), one could comprehend the lower bounds of such tendency. It was gathered that the large landholders could capture the MCs of at least 40 percent of the FOs in NC-AWB, 36 percent of the FOs in GC-AWB and 33 percent of the FOs in LBC-AWB. The majority of the large landholders were holding MCs as Chairmen, Vice Chairmen, General Secretaries, Treasurers and a few as just Members. The smallest landholders in MCs were found mostly as Members. Finally, despite having a substantial number of female landholders in FO general bodies, their participation in MCs was negligible across all AWBs. The study concludes that the overall progress in implementation of the reforms was slow and unsatisfactory both in quantitative and qualitative terms. Nonetheless, it could be taken as an opportunity to learn from the past experiments as the basis for determining the future course of irrigation and drainage reforms and management in the country.

Suggested Citation

  • Junaid Alam Memon & Usman Mustafa, 2012. "Emerging Issues in The Implementation of Irrigation and Drainage Sector Reforms in Sindh, Pakistan," The Pakistan Development Review, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, vol. 51(4), pages 289-301.
  • Handle: RePEc:pid:journl:v:51:y:2012:i:4:p:289-301

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