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Participatory Irrigation Management (PIM) in Turkey
Relating the problems and possible solutions faced in implementing the PIM program in Turkey may be helpful for other countries embarking on PIM reforms

PIM IN TURKEY


By Hasan Ozlu


Relating the problems and possible solutions faced in implementing the PIM program in Turkey may be helpful for other countries embarking on PIM reforms. When the idea of PIM was first publicized widely in Turkey in the early 1990s, government officials had difficulty understanding the new concept of Participatory Irrigation Management. In fact, it was not a new concept for Turkey; it has been applied since the 1960s in the small and isolated irrigation schemes but how would it be possible to implement this concept in the large schemes? What will be the roles of farmers and Government in the new management systems? How can farmers organize and establish water user organizations (WUOs)? Who will guide them? Will the new system be financially sustainable without support from the Government?

All those questions needed to be clarified. Some issues were clarified after a number of government officials visited Mexico and the USA in 1993 to see how management transfer had been implemented there. But many questions remained. Some staff employed within the O&M services of the state agency (State Hydraulic Works, or DSI) objected to transfer to users because of worries about losing their jobs. On the other hand, the central government was not providing adequate budget to finance and staff the O&M services.

DSI gave a guarantee that nobody would lose their job after the transfer but their places or posts could be changed. During the process of PIM implementation, some staff moved to different posts in other departments within DSI. Some technicians and ditch tenders found employment with the new WUOs. Seasonal labor hired for O&M services in DSI decreased after the transfer. No new recruitment was allowed to replace O&M staff who retired. Over time, the levels of O&M staff decreased naturally.

As is common all over the world, O&M services supplied by Government is not cost effective, and the same situation existed with the O&M of irrigation schemes managed by DSI in Turkey. One more problem DSI faces is the transfer of pumping irrigation schemes which have a high energy cost. Even if it is partly subsidized the costs are still not low enough to be attractive for water users to take over O&M services from DSI . Now, this is a very good opportunity for planning, design and construction departments to evaluate new projects to be built in the light of this experience.

Currently DSI completes between 50 and 60,000 ha of new irrigation schemes each year and transfers O&M services immediately to the WUOs. Thus, there is no additional responsibility to DSI for providing O&M services in new irrigation projects. DSI only provides guidance and technical assistance to the associations, including training. For example, a national seminar for irrigation and maintenance engineers of the WUOs was organized by DSI for two weeks in September 1997. Training WUO engineers to supply good quality services in the management of irrigation projects is one of the principal kinds of support given by DSI to the WUOs. With proper training, the WUOs can solve their own problems, instead of waiting for services from the government. This is a critical feature of PIM.

Many foreign groups of irrigation experts have visited Turkey to see first hand the implementation of PIM. We have had visits from Albania, Egypt, and Jordan to name a few. Most recently a group from Romania has visited in August 1997. Turkey is always ready to share its experience in PIM with those interested in implementing PIM programs in their countries.

For further information, please contact Hasan Ozlu , INPIM Board Member, Turkey

Source : http://www.inpim.org

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