Over the years, various factors like increased competition for water, fiscal constraints faced by the government in continued subsidies for irrigation management, the demonstrated improvement in water use equity and efficiency when managed by the users, have led to the devolution of irrigation management to users. Irrigation Management Transfer (IMT), that is, the relocation of responsibility and authority for irrigation management from government agencies to the users, such as water users' associations, has been adopted in more than 25 countries across the world. However, its implementation and adaptation across and within countries has been varied and is at different stages of development.
This work, supported by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), New Delhi, is a synthesis of strategies and best practices adopted by various countries with respect to IMT. It identifies key concerns such as the structure and functions of water users' associations, financial mobilization and constraints, repair and maintenance of physical structures, operation of canal systems and capacity building and monitoring mechanisms. It also identifies enabling environments, including regulatory mechanisms and the role of non-governmental organizations. The last section of this volume distils critical issues and strategic options and suggests a way forward. It is largely based on secondary sources, although some field-based studies and visits were carried out across various states in India.