Do networks facilitate community institutions to cope and adapt to changes? Empirical evidences from irrigated agriculture in Nepal

Authors: Bhuwan Thapa*, University of Arizona - Geography & Development
Topics: Human-Environment Geography, Agricultural Geography, Hazards and Vulnerability
Keywords: social-ecological system, leadership, adaptation, resilience, global south, mountain, farmer-managed irrigation system, water shortage, water stress, irrigation
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Estherwood, Sheraton, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Community-managed irrigation institutions, such as farmer-managed irrigated systems (FMIS), prevalent in climate hotspot regions of Nepal, are facing challenges of: water shortages, labor outmigration, urbanization, road network expansion, and landuse conversion. Institutions have been coping with and adapting to such changes for generations using local knowledge, technologies, and other mechanisms facilitated by local networks among farmers and outside institutions (government, non-government bodies). Using empirical evidence of coping and adaptation strategies implemented by FMIS institutions in high mountains and mid-hills of Central and Western Nepal, this paper explores the role of networks in the adoption of coping and adaptation strategies. The study highlights that irrigation institutions that are well connected with outside donor agencies are able to physical infrastructure rehabilitation works necessary to improve the system’s inefficiencies. However, too much focus on outside agencies can degenerate the motivations for collective actions for sustainable maintenance of the irrigation canals. Local institutions well connected with outside agencies can facilitate adaptation but can produce trade-offs with long-term institutional sustainability if they are too dependent on outside agencies without offering much attention to building internal resilience.

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