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Towards co-management of hydro-agricultural infrastructures


Numerous public hydro-agricultural infrastructures around the world are in crisis. Today, there is a consensus in favour of combining the rehabilitation of infrastructures with the transfer of responsibility for these infrastructures to farmers’ organisations using participatory methods. Yet, how can one implement such processes, truly support the emergence or strengthening of local organisations, and allow a coherent and effective institutional schema to emerge progressively? Launched in 1998, the Prey Nup polder rehabilitation project is the first management transfer experiment in Cambodia. It used experimental methods to combine physical rehabilitation/upgrading, land tenure securisation, and agricultural development support in an associative construction process. Indeed, the success and durability of such a transfer of management depend on the emergence of a solid, efficient organisation with real internal regulation capacities. This experience shows that the construction of a local capacity for management is a process that undergoes crises, faces challenges, and requires strategic steering. It shows that lasting management does not grow out of State withdrawal, but rather results from the construction of co-management shared by the State and local organisations based on a clear legal and contractual framework and State support for local regulation capacities. This document is a translation of an excerpt of the book Vers une cogestion des infrastructures hydro-agricoles. Construction associative et réhabilitation de polders : l’expérience du projet Prey Nup au Cambodge, published in 2005 by Éditions du Gret as part of its Études et travaux series. The book brings together the lessons learnt from this project regarding designing and implementing responsibility transfer projects, steering institution-building actions, and the links between the elaboration of public policies and experimental projects. The more complete French book gives a very detailed and precise description of the process of building a local capacity for management and presents the lessons that one can learn and conclusions one can draw from the experience.


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