WIT Press

Irrigation And Water Security: The Role Of Economic Instruments And Governance


Free (open access)

Paper DOI






Page Range

35 - 42




252 kb


R. C. de Loë & H. Bjornlund


Irrigation is an important contributor to global food security. However, it also contributes to a number of serious water management problems in countries around the world, including groundwater subsidence, reduced water quality, salinization and degraded ecosystems. Steps are being taken to modernize irrigation, both in terms of technologies and institutions. Importantly, while improvements within the irrigation sector are critical, they alone will not ensure the continued sustainability of the sector because irrigation contributes to, and is affected by, the larger challenge of ensuring water security. In this paper, we explore the concept of water security and link it to irrigation through examining the link between water allocation and water security. Economic instruments, we argue, are an important part of strategies to improve allocative efficiency and thus they promote water security – but on their own they are not sufficient. Rather, we suggest that water security as a multi-dimensional challenge must be approached from the broader perspective of improved governance. In this context, attention is needed to considerations such as transparency in decision making; equity in stakeholder involvement; integration among related systems (e.g., land and water, water and economy); the scale of decision making; and the balance between state and non-state actors. Keywords: water governance, irrigation, economic instruments, water security. 1 Introduction Irrigation increases agricultural yields and outputs and helps to stabilize global food production. The roughly 17% of the world's cropland that is irrigated


water governance, irrigation, economic instruments, water security.