Studies of the waterscape of Kilimanjaro, Tanzania: water management in hill furrow irrigation

Studies of the waterscape of Kilimanjaro, Tanzania: water management in hill furrow irrigation

Water management reform in Tanzania: considering irrigation systems and new water water policies for Kilimanjaro

The practices and technology related to irrigation in Tanzania are relevant to debates about indigenous intensive agricultural systems, concerning their sustainability and prospects for development. This study analyses water system of the Kilimanjaro region in Tanzania, focusing on its material, institutional, and ideational aspects. The paper notes that the water management reform process in the region is influenced by development ideologies in the global water management discourse as well as a national tradition that can be described as technocratic.

The authors argue that ideas of improvement in water management can be classified into three groups: market-based, state-led, and neo-populist. Nevertheless, compromises have been made in Tanzania in the development of a new water policy and in a water reform process.

Findings include:

  • irrigation systems in the region under study are operated by groups of farmers who continue to use and develop long-standing traditions
  • the systems are characterised by non-cooperation and conflict, not only over water as a resource, but over norms of proper water management like water pricing (e.g. water pricing)
  • access to water is not well predicted by the norms of water use alone; a better understanding of water commons can result from a broader conception
  • neighbourhood- and kinship-based type organisations can work without an elaborate set of bureaucratic rules in catering access to water for different users
  • groups of self-organised irrigators and their practices have been targeted by several development initiatives (e.g. the Norwegian ones).
The document concludes that the irrigation organisations can be seen as a commons institutionalised through a historical process and embedded with other institutions and social relations. On the other hand, it concludes that the shifting influences of several factors have to be considered in the explanation of considerable variation in irrigation from a regional and temporal perspective.

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