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The role of the private sector in irrigation management: Experiences and opportunities, London

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26 February 2016

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Although a large proportion of global food production is dependent on such irrigation systems, they are still widely perceived to be poorly managed, wasteful of water and money, and to cause adverse social and environmental impacts. Since the 1990s Water Users' Associations have been almost universally promoted to address these problems, but these cannot yet address the underlying problems, particularly on very large scale irrigation in South and East Asia.

More recently, a more commercial approach has been promoted by the World Bank and Asian Development, with much larger components of irrigation development and management being contracted to the private sector. The Guerdane scheme in Morocco is often cited as a success story, but decades on it has rarely been replicated.

This meeting aims to explore some of these issues, including the challenges of managing irrigation for subsistence purposes in very poor countries, the opportunities for introduced advanced methods from more developed economies, and the role that agribusinesses and socially aware consumers can have.

IWF members have been involved in many of these developments and have a strong interest in improving the performance of irrigation systems globally. This meeting will provide an opportunity to share experiences, successes and failures.

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Tim Fuller