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Institutional Options for Sustainable Irrigation: An Evidence from Bulgaria


  • Penov, Ivan


This paper investigates a local problem of common pool resources (CPR), the solution of which needs a balance between the collective and private interests. In the political context we have a large group of actors with a short planning horizon and a lack of trust among them. CPR provision is organised in a centralised way. The state enforcement mechanism is weak and cannot protect the individuals or eventually back the collective decisions. The above problem is investigated in the case of irrigation in Bulgaria where water usage declined by nearly 85% during the period of transition. In addition, large parts of the existing canal systems were abandoned. Three groups of institutional options are investigated in the paper: improvement of the local level co-ordination; limiting the market imperfections, and strengthening the external conflict resolution and sanctioning mechanisms. The investigation of the above case led the author to conclusions that can be generalised for the case of CPR management during the period of transition. The transition process is not just a process of transferring western institutions to Eastern Europe, but also a process of spontaneous emerging of new institutions at local level. Therefore, we call for state intervention, not in the area of CPR provision, but in supporting local co-ordination.

Suggested Citation

  • Penov, Ivan, 2004. "Institutional Options for Sustainable Irrigation: An Evidence from Bulgaria," Discussion Papers 18898, CEESA: Central and Eastern European Sustainable Agriculture International Research Project.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:ceesdp:18898
    DOI: 10.22004/ag.econ.18898

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Aggarwal, Rimjhim M., 2000. "Possibilities and Limitations to Cooperation in Small Groups: The Case of Group-Owned Wells in Southern India," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 28(8), pages 1481-1497, August.
    2. Sarker, Ashutosh & Itoh, Tadao, 2001. "Design principles in long-enduring institutions of Japanese irrigation common-pool resources," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 48(2), pages 89-102, June.
    3. R. Quentin Grafton, 2000. "Governance of the Commons: A Role for the State?," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 76(4), pages 504-517.
    4. Sabates-Wheeler, Rachel, 2002. "Farm Strategy, Self-Selection and Productivity: Can Small Farming Groups Offer Production Benefits to Farmers in Post-Socialist Romania?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 30(10), pages 1737-1753, October.
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