Socio-Ecology of groundwater irrigation in South Asia: an overview of issues and evidence

Book Title: Groundwater Intensive Use
Year Published: 2005
Month Published: NA
Author: Mukherji, Aditi ; Shah, Tushaar
Book Group Author: NA

Rapid growth of groundwater irrigation in South Asia has been at the heart of its recent agrarian growth. Here, over the past 50 years, public investments and donor funds have been showered over surface irrigation, but the bulk of its irrigation and agrarian growth have been delivered by millions of small pumps and wells financed mostly through private farmer investments. Not only has area under groundwater irrigation grown in leaps and bounds, but portion contributed by groundwater irrigation to total agricultural production is very nearly twice than that of surface irrigation. At the same time, groundwater development has been spatially dispersed and even whereas canal irrigation projects have created small islands of affluence leaving large catchments areas poor and deprived. It is not surprising then that providing access to groundwater irrigation through pump subsidies or public tubewell programs has been at the centre-stage of poverty reduction programs in South Asia. But with growing problems of resource depletion and deterioration, Asia's groundwater socio-ecology is under siege. Much concern about the problems of groundwater depletion, pollution and quality deterioration is fueled by worries about their environmental consequences. These are indeed serious; however, equally serious are their consequences for the sustenance of agrarian economies and millions of rural livelihoods that have come to precariously depend upon groundwater irrigation, particularly in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Therefore, the issue is: how long can this good run continue without any mechanism for governing this colossus? What kind of governing structures and mechanisms might help bring a modicum of order in the functioning of this booming but anarchic economy? In this quest for better governance, need to understand the spatial variation within South Asia itself is of great importance. Recognizing the need for a refined understanding of groundwater socio-ecology of south Asia, the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) undertook a groundwater survey in four South Asian countries, viz. India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal plains. This paper presents the findings of the IWMI cross country groundwater survey.

Pages: 53-77
Volume: 7
Number: NA
Journal: NA
Journal ISO: NA
Organization: Geol Survey Spain; Marecelino Botin Fdn; Reg Govt Valencia; Food & Agr Org; Int Assoc Hydrogeol; Int Atomic Energy Agcy; Int Water Resources Assoc; Natl Ground Water Assoc; United Nat Educ & Sci Org Int Hydrol Programme; Fund Cent Int Hidrol Subte
ISBN: 0-415-36444-2

groundwater irrigation; South Asia; agriculture; water markets

Source: Web of Science
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