Impact of World Bank funded irrigation projects in Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Orissa

Research Team: David Fuente, Kadambari Anantram
LEAD Centre: Centre for Development Finance ( CDF)
Focus Area: Environment and Climate Change
Project Geography: Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Odisha
Partner: World Bank
Status: Completed


The cooperative programme between the FAO and the World Bank seeks to take stock of the impacts of nine World Bank funded irrigation projects across the states of Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh. The study has two components (1) A Desk review which includes the analysis of World Bank documents (Project Appraisal, Mid-term Review, Implementation Completion Report, etc) which investigates the economic, social and institutional impacts of completed projects and changes that are sought to be ushered in by ongoing projects. (2) Qualitative Field Work component (March-August 2010) in the states of Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Orissa to provide ground-truths to the desk review.

The qualitative field component seeks to investigate the various dimensions of Participatory Irrigation Management (PIM) – specifically the functioning of Water User Associations (WUAs) and improvements (if any) in the distribution of water and benefits (farm and non-farm) to water users. In Tamil Nadu, one major irrigation project (The Perambikulam Aliyar Project in the districts of Coimbatore and Erode) and two tank systems in Kanchipuram were chosen. In Maharashtra and Orissa, two medium irrigation projects were chosen.

In order to capture the distributional benefits of irrigation projects, based on consultations with officials at the Department of Water Resources (DoWR) in Chennai, Mumbai and Bhubaneshwar, WUAs located at the head, middle and tail locations were chosen and within each of these a village located in the head and tail was chosen. These officials at the State level also put the CDF research team in touch with field officials in charge of the chosen projects. The latter arranged for the team to conduct transect walks, Focus Group Discussions and one-on-one interviews with stakeholders which included but was not limited to the WUA management committee members, farmers, landless groups, Panchayat President and ward members in the chosen villages. Information was garnered on issues relating to the functioning of the WUA, water distribution patterns, equity issues with regards to participation of marginal and small farmers, women farmers and tail-end farmers in the WUA decision making process, changes ushered in after the formation of the WUA, and the relationship between various village institutions.
The reports were completed and handed over to the FAO in December 2010.