ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

Increasing private investment in irrigation: Implications for groundwater management in dryland agricultural regions of India


Bhangaonkar Rekha - University of Cambridge, Land Economy, Cambridge, United Kingdom


46 – Sustainable Regeneration of Water Infrastructures: An Invitation to Forge Interdisciplinary Governance & Policy Design Thinking


 Climate risks to dryland agriculture are on the rise. Variability and disruption in the seasonal monsoon coupled with other factors such as low agricultural productivity of dryland crops, poor commercial opportunities and a high proportion of small landholding farmers limits the livelihood opportunities from dryland agriculture. Dryland agricultural research centres have produced evidence on the viability of horticultural farming as a means to enhance livelihood opportunities. A crucial component in this model is to develop the supporting irrigation infrastructure facilities. Public investments are channelled into developing water harvesting capacity by clearing and deepening drainage lines identified at a micro-watershed scale, while private investments are directed to wells (groundwater access), farm ponds (water storage) and micro-drip irrigation systems (per drop efficiency). In the event of wells drying up, water tankers satisfy the irrigation requirements. This study examines the implications of heavy private investment in irrigation on groundwater management. Specifically, how new infrastructure such as farm ponds affect community-based groundwater management? What institutional mechanisms are in place to coordinate groundwater management above the village scale? How is the management efficiency of this common pool resource monitored?