chapter  1
15 Pages

Irrigation as a Socio-Technical Process

WithNorman Uphoff

Many management activities are required to make the physical structures perform their intended functions, making irrigation a socio-technical process which combines human and material elements to achieve a more predictable and productive agriculture. Irrigation systems require correct technical planning and design. Dams need to have the material strength and spill facilities to cope with powerful hydraulic forces. Irrigation systems can vary in many respects: in their ability to adapt to changing conditions, in their productivity, their size, their complexity, their technology, their management structure. Farmer participation in irrigation management is multifaceted, dealing not only with water but also with the physical and social structures that control it. When irrigation structures capture, convey and distribute water to support plant growth, they are quite visible and impressive. Their evident success in sustaining agriculture under conditions where inadequate rainfall would otherwise limit or prevent production makes irrigation appear as a preeminently physical process.