Blog action day 2010: More MDGs per drop

Pim is my nephew. He has many friends and a wide, tender loving family. Love blinds and we forgot to take him to regular health checks. Pim has been stumbling and is seriously ill. But he can be cured and made into a serious marathon runner again.

In the mid-80s Ben Bagadion of the Philippines  National Irrigation Administration was the champion of Participatory Irrigation Management (PIM) and Irrigation Management Transfer (IMT) in community based smallholder systems. PIM and IMT were seen as panacea, also for large canal systems. IFAD (and many others) adopted the philosophy and strengthening water user associations (WUA) became the buzz word of the '90s and beyond. We reflected this belief in our corporate approaches, learning products,  RIMS and Office of Evaluation work.

Today, some 25 years later, the international water community was shaken wide awake when informed at the Asian Development Bank (ADB) conference on Water Crisis and Choices that PIM was ill, seriously ill. After assessing PIM in Asia, IWMI found a success rate of 40%. That is a politically correct way of not saying that 60% of PIM failed. They even downplay the success rate stating that it is mostly the 'good' cases to get documented.

This is serious food for thought. Luckily there are plenty of caveats, if's and but's. Non-paddy (I.e. mixed farming), smaller systems in more isolated or peripheral community based settings seem to fare better. That would be us. No time for complacency. Better safe than sorry. The work of Office of Evaluation dates from 2000. So IWMI and Policy and Technical Advisory Division will be concluding an assessment on PIM and WUA performance in our portfolio worldwide to draw lessons for the future.

A future in which improved water productivity in terms of 'More MDGs per drop' will be key, especially under the poverty exacerbating climate change conditions and adverse terms of negotiating and decision-making power affecting our target groups over the sustainable use of the, correction: their, natural resource base.

For IFAD, live from Manila, Rudolph Cleveringa