The institutional organization of irrigation in Spain and other Mediterranean countries
ABSTRACT: This chapter will be focusing on the topic of agricultural irrigation in Spain and other Mediterranean countries. Spain has a long and rich history concerning the tradition of irrigation and the formation of users’ communities. Due to their long history, it is worth considering the organizational structure and functioning of these communities. The chapter is structured in two major sections: The first part undertakes a comprehensive overview of water endowment in Spain, understood as both its natural water resource assets and its institutional assets, looking at Spanish water use, and the role of the agricultural sector therein. In order to better understand the evolution and recent changes that have taken place in the irrigation sector and potential further improvements that could be made in the near future, the properties of the different irrigation methods and techniques are pointed out, as well as their change in use over time. The second part of the chapter analyses the incentives which lead to the creation of these irrigation communities, some of the oldest and best studied self-governance systems, their results and the main factors for their success. Special attention is given to the history, functioning and achievements of irrigators’ communities, in particular analyzing the pivotal role played by the Spanish National Federation of Irrigators Communities (FENACORE) and its European equivalent, the Euro-Mediterranean Irrigators Community (EIC). The structuring and formalization of collective action into these institutional organizations is a key element for robust water management. The special case of a self-governed independent judicial body: The Valencia Water Court, which has succeeded in keeping peaceful communal water management in the region through its unique functioning, is also briefly discussed.