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Innovations in Services for Irrigation Users

Ensuring that irrigation schemes are sustainable when management is transferred to farmers remains a considerable challenge for food security and economic development. Between the dismantling of public advisory services and unsustainable projects still too often limited to providing rapid training courses, irrigation users are quite alone in facing this challenge. Yet, the responsibilities they must assume are numerous, complex and sometimes beyond their abilities.

Support for the emergence of intermediary actors—or strengthening existing organizations—as service structures is, in this context, an interesting possibility. But there is no one single model. On the contrary, the experience of the ASIrri project in Cambodia, Haiti and Mali shows that setting up irrigation user service schemes is an institutional innovation process to adapt to each context: a farmers’ organization providing support-advice services in Mali, a federation of irrigation users’ organizations pooling an in-house service scheme in Haiti, or a private center arising from a project team opening its governance to peasants in Cambodia

Analyzing these three innovation processes nevertheless reveals common principles when it comes to services, principles that are put into practice differently in each context. What is more, ASIrri is also a testament to the fact that the implementation of these innovation processes requires unique project engineering.