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Wageningen Universiteit (2004)

The success of a policy model : irrigation management transfer in Mexico

Rap, E.

Titre : The success of a policy model : irrigation management transfer in Mexico

Auteur : Rap, E.

Université de soutenance : Wageningen Universiteit

Grade : Doctor Thesis 2004

This thesis studies the emergence, process and outcomes of the Mexican policy of Irrigation Management Transfer (IMT). Under the influence of neo-liberal government policies, the transfer of government-managed irrigation districts to water users’ associations (WUAs) has radically changed irrigation management inMexicoduring the past fifteen years. Internationally,Mexico’s IMT programme has been heralded as a success and has drawn widespread attention because of its rapid implementation. Consequently, it has been propagated as a model for other countries seeking to improve the performance of their public irrigation systems and cut burgeoning public expenditures. This study firstly critically examines the emergence of this policy model and its proclaimed success. Secondly, it discusses the impacts this has on everyday irrigation management. On the one hand, the thesis offers a comprehensive analysis of the entire life cycle of the IMT policy. It traces the idea of transfer back to its bureaucratic roots and reviews how the idea gained political commitment as the consequence of a prolonged bureaucratic struggle. This shows that the IMT policy has a fascinating history that it is tied up with the past and the future of the hydraulic bureaucracy (involved with hydraulic resources and water management). The formerly influential and autonomous Ministry of Water Resources lost its autonomy and its control over the irrigation districts inMexicowhen it was merged halfway the 1970s with the agricultural bureaucracy (responsible for the agricultural sector). At the end of the 1980s, the IMT policy played an important role in the reconstitution of the hydraulic bureaucracy in the Comisión Nacional del Agua (CNA : National Water Commission), which regained autonomy and control over the irrigation districts.On the other hand, this book takes a close look at the everyday organisational practices that have emerged in a WUA around the strategic resources of water, maintenance machinery and irrigation fees. It shows how a political group based in a WUA maintains a network of political and institutional relations by controlling this set of resources. The contribution of this thesis as a whole to the study of policy reform and irrigation management is that it consistently analyses them as political practices that are also expressive of the cultural dimension of human action and social ordering.


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