Assessment of Institutional Reforms in Irrigation Sector in Pakistan: A Way Forward

Fateh Muhammad Mari


Agriculture plays an important and critical role in the economy of Pakistan. It contributes around 21 percent to GDP, accounts for 60 percent of its exports, and provides employment to over 46 percent of labor force. Providing sufficient food to a growing population is a major development challenge for the country. Water is a key parameter in development of agriculture and food security in Pakistan. The country over the time is moving towards water stress and scarcity. The irrigation efficiency of the Indus basin irrigation system has been noted as low. This target can only be accomplished by improving irrigation water management ensuring equity, efficiency and reliability in water distribution and user satisfaction. The need to adopt new improved practices to manage the water resources with respect to improvement in performance of service delivery and sustainability of the irrigation infrastructure led the Government of Pakistan towards comprehensive Institutional Reforms in water sector to ensure effective planning, development and management of all water resources within the country. This was an important step in the process of implementing the necessary institutional reforms in the irrigation sector. The reform area focused on the decentralization of the irrigation system management, through public and private partnership, participation of farmers and resource governance. The reforms focus on decentralization of a centrally controlled irrigation system (Provincial Irrigation Department-PID) into a three tier public private partnership based management system. The aim of bringing reforms was to bring equity, efficiency, reliability and user satisfaction in water distribution and improve water charges collection for operation and maintenance of the system to reduce subsidies. The reform process in Pakistan is facing lot of challenges in achieving its objectives and wining support and will from government and policy makers. The reforms are also facing resistance from the provincial irrigation departments of public sector, which are to be transformed. As of today lot of effort and money has been put for reforms yet it is not going through. The results show that the reforms process in the country is struggling requiring political will and full support of the stakeholders. Small and tail end farmers are in full favor of the participatory irrigation management.


Water, Institutional Reforms and Participatory Irrigation Management


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