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Adaptive water resource management in the South Indian lower Bhavani project command area
Linköping University, The Tema Institute, Department of Water and Environmental Studies. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
International Water Management Institute (IWMI), P O Box 2075, Colombo, Sri Lanka.
2009 (English)Report (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This study explores the theory and practice of Adaptive Management (AM) based on a detailed field study. To what extent farmers and water resource managers already practice AM; and whether it is practiced in an optimal manner or could there be areas for improvement based on recent advancements in the theory of AM; are some of the questions that are particularly appropriate in the light of rapid changes in river basin water use and also in relation to basin closure.

This paper draws on the development and use of water resources in the Lower Bhavani Project (LBP), with the LBP reservoir and the 84,000 hectare (ha) LBP command area. The project diverts water from the Bhavani River, a tributary of the Cauvery River, in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The LBP was the first major irrigation project initiated in India after independence in 1947 and was in full operation by 1956. The LBP has had a major impact on the socioeconomic development of the area, and continues to be a productive irrigated area. However, behind the story of a productive irrigation system lie more complex stories of societal change, conflicts and negotiation in response to water scarcity and several drivers of change. In fact, there were problems from the start, as the original design concept for the project was not accepted by farmers who opted for more waterintensive crops rather than the suggested ‘dry crops’. In addition, a highly fluctuating climate and the transfer of water to urban areas have all been a challenge for agricultural producers. Farmers, system managers and others have responded to these challenges by trying out different management systems, and have continued to adjust their practices in the face of change.

This paper presents a five-step framework of analysis based on recent theories of AM to understand the extent to which it is practiced and how it could be improved. The Adaptive Water Management (AWM) analysis shows that the LBP system has increasingly fulfilled the criteria of a complex adaptive system over the years. Social learning takes place at system and farmer level. The main uncertainty factor, rainfall variability, has been considered in a stepwise way during the system change cycles and has been included in the system design. The system has, to some extent, fulfilled the requirement of an adaptive regime and has built a substantial amount of social capital. This has been a rather ad hoc process, which could have been much faster had attention been paid to institutional setups and infrastructure designs that support AM.

However, the future will not be easier. The basin is closed with water resources already overallocated to various uses. Yet, cities and industries, and users outside the basin, will demand more and agriculture itself is becoming less important to the economy. To meet these future challenges, it is essential that policymakers recognize and build on the existing social capital and the negotiation and learning systems that have been developed.

Finally, the LBP case study gives us some hope. In spite of contending with an imperfect irrigation system design and intense competition for water resources, water resource managers and farmers are able to adapt and continue to reap benefits from a productive agricultural system.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
IWMI , 2009. , 36 p.
Series
IWMI Research Report, ISSN 1026-0862
National Category
Oceanography, Hydrology, Water Resources
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-18456DOI: 10.3910/2009.128ISBN: 978-92-9090-703-9 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-18456DiVA: diva2:219539
Available from: 2009-05-27 Created: 2009-05-27 Last updated: 2014-09-09Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Water Realities and Development Trajectories: Global and Local Agricultural Production Dynamics
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Water Realities and Development Trajectories: Global and Local Agricultural Production Dynamics
2009 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[en]
Vatten en realitet i jordbruksutvecklingen : Global och lokal dynamik över tid
Abstract [en]

Water constraints for humans and nature are gaining more and more public attention as a critical environmental dilemma that needs to be addressed. When aquifers and rivers are running dry, the debate refers to an ongoing “world water crisis”. This thesis focuses on the water and agricultural production complexity in a global, regional and local perspective during different phases of development. It addresses the river basin closing process in light of consumptive water use changes, land use alterations, past and future food production in waterscarce developing countries in general, and a south Indian case study basin in particular, the Bhavani basin in Tamil Nadu.

The study focuses on early phases of global agricultural development and addresses consumptive use and river depletion in response to land use change and irrigation expansion. It shows that focus must be shifted from a water use to a consumptive water use notion that considers both green and blue water resources.

The Bhavani basin development trajectory reveals a dynamic interplay between land and water resources and different socio-political groups during the “green revolution” period. The present system has emerged as a step-by-step adaptation in response to hydro-climatic variability, human demands and infrastructure constraints. The study reveals three kinds of basin closure: allocation closure; hydrological closure; and perception wise closure. Many concerted actions on multiple scales have contributed to an increasing water use complexity even after closure. The study shows the extent to which natural variability hides creeping changes, and that the “average year” is a deceptive basis for water allocation planning.

Future consumptive water requirements to feed growing populations in the developing world is analysed with a back-casting country-based approach. The study shows a doubling of water requirements by 2050 and how the challenge can be halved by increased water productivity. Since blue water accessibility for irrigation clearly will be insufficient, additional green water has to be acquired by horizontal agricultural expansion into other terrestrial ecosystems. The task will be substantial and increase the importance of global food trade.

Abstract [sv]

Vattenbrist för människor och ekosystem är en mer och mer uppmärksammad miljöfråga. Sjunkande grundvattennivåer och uttorkade floder gör att många talar om en ”global vattenkris”. Denna avhandling fokuserar på de komplexa sambanden mellan vatten och jordbruksproduktion utifrån ett globalt, regionalt och lokalt perspektiv under olika utvecklingsfaser under fyra sekler. Den redogör för hur avrinningsområden överintecknas och slutligen ”stängs” för ytterligare vattenutvinning. Effekterna av ökad vattenutvinning i relation till historisk och framtida matproduktion analyseras generellt i utvecklingsländer med vattenbrist, och i detalj i en fallstudie i Bhavani avrinningsområde i Tamil Nadu i södra Indien.

Studien visar för den tidiga jordbruksutvecklingen på global nivå hur förändrad markanvändning och bevattningsexpansion leder till förändrad balans mellan evapotranspiration och avrinning, med uttorkning av vattendrag som följd. Den visar vidare vikten av ett paradigmskifte där fokus flyttas från vattenanvändning till ”konsumerande” vattenanvändning, och som inkluderar både grönvatten- och blåvattenresurser.

Analysen av Bhavaniområdets utvecklingskurva under det senaste seklets jordbruksutveckling visar på ett dynamiskt växelspel mellan land- och vattenresurser och mellan olika samhällsgrupper. Den nuvarande vattenanvändningssituationen har stegvis växt fram som en respons på hydroklimatisk variabilitet, människors behov och infrastrukturbegränsningar. Studien påvisar att ett avrinningsområde kan ses som ”stängt” på tre skilda sätt: när flödet är överintecknat, när utflödet sinar, och när vattenanvändare upplever att behoven överstiger tillgången. Även efter ”stängning” har etablering och intensifiering av vattenutvinning fortsatt och resulterat i ett alltmer komplext och sammanflätat vattenanvändningsmönster. Studien visar vidare hur hög hydroklimatisk variabilitet, dels gör att ”genomsnittlig vattentillgång” är förledande vid planering av vattenfördelning i ett avrinningsområde, och dels döljer smygande kumulativa effekter av ökad vattenutvinning.

Slutligen anlyseras ländervis framtida vattenbehov för att möta matbehovet i världens utvecklingsländer, vilket visar på en fördubbling fram till 2050. Tack vare ökad vattenproduktivitet kan behovet emellertid halveras. Endast en bråkdel av det resterande behovet kan mötas genom ökad bevattning, dvs. med mera blåvatten. En stor del av vattenbehovet måste istället täckas med mera grönvatten via uppodling av andra terrestra ekosystem. Uppgiften innebär en betydande utmaning och global handel med jordbruksprodukter kommer att öka avsevärt i betydelse.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2009. 105 + papers 1-5 p.
Series
Linköping Studies in Arts and Science, ISSN 0282-9800 ; 475
Keyword
Agriculture development, food production, per capita food supply, consumptive water use, evaporation, transpiration, hydro-climatic variability, blue water resource, green water resource, irrigation, river depletion, river basin closure, adaptive water management, vegetal and animal foods, Jordbruksutveckling, matproduktion, per capita mattillgång, konsumerande vattenanvändning, evaporation, transpiration, hydroklimatisk variabilitet, blåvattenresurs, grönvattenresurs, bevattning, uttorkning av vattendrag, överintecknade avrinningsområden, anpassad vattenhantering, vegetarisk och animalisk föda.
National Category
Oceanography, Hydrology, Water Resources
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-18457 (URN)978-91-7393-665-1 (ISBN)
Public defence
2009-04-20, Sal TEMCAS, T-Huset, Campus Valla, Linköpings universitet, Linköping, 10:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2009-05-27 Created: 2009-05-27 Last updated: 2014-09-29Bibliographically approved

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