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Water User Associations

Water User Associations normally comprise a formal, usually legally-bound, group of farmers (or water users), often grouped around a particular canal or borehole, with responsibility for managing and maintaining the part of the system that serves them. These Associations have come into existence as a result of governmental determination, often with donor support, to devolve some of the responsibility for the management and maintenance of irrigation (or domestic water and wastewater) services from central government onto users. Motivated by the search for efficiency and cost-savings, the creation of Water User Associations can be seen as a form of privatisation, with the government agency adopting the role of service provider rather than operator. Water User Associations can also be seen as a means of community participation and community ownership of services. The degree of responsibility for the service and its maintenance varies from one model to another. In principle, their creation should lead to greater user commitment and reduced government intervention. To date, success with this approach towards devolution of services has varied considerably.

Further information: User Organisations for Sustainable Water Services, World Bank, 1997. Impacts of Irrigation Management Transfer: A review of the Evidence, IIMI, 1997

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