Economic viability of small-scale irrigation systems in the context of state withdrawal: the Arabie Scheme in the Northern Province of South Africa
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The reduction of state presence in irrigation and the transfer of management from government agencies to farmers or farming communities has become a widespread phenomenon, in response to the dual problem of low irrigation performance and constraints to public funding. The underlying principle is to encourage farmers and local communities to take responsibility for the management of local resources, and thereby limit external interventions to the provision of information and institutional support services. As most of the schemes in question were not primarily designed for farmer management, experiences world-wide show a mixed picture of positive and negative results. The case of South Africa has recently received attention, as the few pilot schemes, especially in the Northern Province, do not seem to hold much promise of success. Current discussions on the subject raise a lot of issues and hypotheses about the subject of irrigation management transfer to farmers. The paper is an attempt to test some of these hypotheses in the African context, using the Arabie Scheme as a case study. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
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