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Improvement of the system of incentives

Charged water use system

For water saving and better water supply services, it is necessary to increase accountability of water suppliers before farmers. To this end, by means of incentives, penalties and transparency, performance of the organizations providing water services is to be organized in such a way so that to comply with the standards set by the steering body of water users (Council or Board of WUA).

One of the main principles of management science, which is often forgotten while drafting a development strategy says: unless prosperity of organization depends on achievement of agreed standards of performance, that organization will not be willing to introduce effective internal responsibility mechanisms.

To make water suppliers more accountable before water users and vice versa, it is necessary to create interdependence between entities. Generally, water services are provided down, while financial flow goes up. The interdependence means rough balance of power, i.e. one organization cannot dominate over other one. The source of revenues for one organization is the provision of appropriate services for another organization. The typical example of such interdependence is the volume-based charging of water to water using organizations. However, the problem is that in Uzbekistan, for example, the services provided by public WMOs to agricultural water users are free* and, second, water users pay for WUAs services on hectare basis rather than by volume of used water.

* Services provided by public WMOs to agricultural water users are not free in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan; however, as water fees for water consumers (farmers) are collected on hectare basis, the effect of charged water use in these countries is very limited.

Experiments on transition to volume-based water charges (Osh province, Kyrgyzstan) demonstrate substantial decreases in water delivered to peasant farms and, consequently, visible reduction of charges for WUAs water services. Thus, on the one hand, the volume-based water charging contributes to water saving, and, on the other hand, such experiment cannot be up-scaled unless the interests of WUA, which suffers from water saving, are taken into account.

Another cause of limited transition to volumetric method of water charges is the widespread misperception that such transition is possible (advisable) only after equipping all farms in WUA with gauging posts.

As water saving and better quality of water delivery are of vital importance in CAR and full equipping of farms with gauging posts can be achieved only in the longer term, we have to search for ways of transition to volume-based water charges even under low degree of equipping with meters. To this end, in the context of the above mentioned restraints, the IWRM-Fergana Project developed a method for introduction of volume-based charges for irrigation services provided by WUA.


Currently, WMOs staff is not concerned whether WMO performs good or well. Salaries of staff do not depend on that. There is no (moral or financial) motivation for monitoring, assessment and improved effectiveness and efficiency of WMO.

One of ways to raise motivation of water supplies for better performance in terms of water delivery and maintenance would be to organize competitions among them. In Soviet times, the so called socialistic competitions were widespread; however, those were compromised by box-ticking approach despite doubtless real value of such an approach.

Introduction of competitions between water entities would lead to brain storming among local experienced and young professionals, whose knowledge is non-demanded at present since superiors think for everybody, while subordinates have to execute their orders only. Moreover, superiors are not concerned about opinions of subordinates. To the question of whether the latter knew about preparation of one or another decree (decision, order) or participated in drafting (discussion) of one or another documents everyone (including local top executives) had negative answer.

It is commonly perceived that local professionals have to be trained. This is true. However, in contrast, one also has to learn from local professionals. Their brains are a grand resource, without which the water sector can hardly make real progress.

When evaluating competition results, the role of monitoring and indicators increases. As part of the IWRM-Fergana Project, a system of indicators was developed and introduced for internal and external evaluation of water management quality, including such indicators as stability and equitability of water supply.

Author: Mirzaev N.N., SIC ICWC