Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Irrigation Financing in Perspective

Irrigation Financing in Perspective

Irrigation and world food supplies
Irrigation provides supplementary water supply to one-fifth of the world's cultivated land, from which one-third of the world's food is harvested. Many of the world's poorest people are dependent on this food. Billions of low-income people struggle to supplement inadequate and unreliable rainfall with irrigation.

The stakes are clearly high. Two statistics highlight this. One in five of all people in the world is a Chinese peasant and most of them are irrigation farmers. Every month there are a million more Indian farmers and most are or would like to become irrigation farmers.

Irrigation is a potentially effective investment to service the basic needs for food and employment in the developing world. But the investment necessary to develop new irrigation systems is costly. And the expense does not end with the construction of irrigation facilities. The provision of reliable irrigation service requires recurrent expenditures for operation and maintenance.

Irrigation problems
Unfortunately the consensus among irrigation researchers and financing agencies is that irrigation is not performing anywhere near its potential. As one reviewer concluded in a damning summary of field evidence:Evaluations of public irrigation systems have shown that, in most, service has deteriorated due to faulty design and construction, neglected maintenance, and inefficient operation. Distri­bution channels, if aligned properly to begin with, become silted up or breached as time goes by. Even in systems designed for regular rotational water distribution, deliveries to most farmers are erratic and unreliable.

These problems are interlinked. One problem can initiate another which can cause a third and so forth. Poor canal design can lead to shortage of water. In turn, this leads to farmers adopting unorthodox coping mechanisms or even stealing extra supplies which, in arid areas, will cause water logging at the head of canals and drought and soil salinity in the irrigated lands at the tails. Low returns to farmers in these cir­cumstances may, in time, lead to farmer refusal to pay irrigation charges or service fees. Financial delinquency by a few farmers may rapidly lead to widespread non-payment and starve the operating agency of financial resources which may in turn affect operation and maintenance.

Macroeconomic setting
The severity of the present economic and financial crisis facing most developing countries and the prolonged international recession of The severity of the present economic and financial crisis facing most developing countries.

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