IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Irrigation systems as multiple-use commons: Water use in Kirindi Oya, Sri Lanka


  • Ruth Meinzen-Dick
  • Margaretha Bakker


Irrigation systems are recognized as common pool resources supplying water for agricultural production, but their role in supplying water for other uses is often overlooked. The importance of non-agricultural uses of irrigation water in livelihood strategies has implications for irrigation management and water rights, especially as increasing scarcity challenges existing water allocation mechanisms. This paper examines the multiple uses of water in the Kirindi Oya irrigation system in Sri Lanka, who the users are, and implications for water rights and management policies. There are important residential, gender, and class differences among the water users. People use irrigation system water not only for field crops, but also for fishing, homestead gardens, and livestock. Even within irrigated farming households, men have more control over paddy crops in the main fields, whereas homestead gardens are women's domain. Because the irrigation system provides water for birds and animals, even wildlife and non-resident environmental groups can be considered stakeholders. Current policies emphasize user involvement in both irrigation and domestic water supply. While government agencies have had primary responsibility, institutions such as Farmers' Organizations are being promoted. These have the potential to serve as user platforms for negotiating water allocation among irrigated farmers. However, the user organizations reflect the sectoral responsibility of the government agencies. Their membership and structure do not take into account the multiple uses or users of water. Developing platforms that accommodate different user groups remains a major challenge for improving the overall productivity, as well as equity, of water use. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999

Suggested Citation

  • Ruth Meinzen-Dick & Margaretha Bakker, 1999. "Irrigation systems as multiple-use commons: Water use in Kirindi Oya, Sri Lanka," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 16(3), pages 281-293, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:agrhuv:v:16:y:1999:i:3:p:281-293
    DOI: 10.1023/A:1007507918459

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Edella Schlager & Elinor Ostrom, 1992. "Property-Rights Regimes and Natural Resources: A Conceptual Analysis," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 68(3), pages 249-262.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Giordano, Meredith & Turral, H. & Scheierling, S. M. & Treguer, D. O. & McCornick, Peter G, 2017. "Beyond “More Crop per Drop”: evolving thinking on agricultural water productivity," IWMI Research Reports 257962, International Water Management Institute.
    2. Dekel, Sagi & Fischer, Sven & Zultan, Ro’i, 2017. "Potential Pareto Public Goods," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 146(C), pages 87-96.
    3. Christopher S. Galik & Pamela Jagger, 2015. "Bundles, Duties, and Rights: A Revised Framework for Analysis of Natural Resource Property Rights Regimes," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 91(1), pages 76-90.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:spr:agrhuv:v:16:y:1999:i:3:p:281-293. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Sonal Shukla) or (Springer Nature Abstracting and Indexing). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.