Irrigation management transfer (IMT)

The term ‘irrigation management transfer’ means the relocation of responsibility and authority for irrigation management from government agencies to non-governmental organizations, such as water users’ associations. It may include all or partial transfer of management functions. It may include full or only partial authority. It may be implemented at sub-system levels, such as distributary canal commands, or for entire irrigation systems or tubewell commands. Other terms, such as turnover, take-over, devolution, privatization or disengagement, are sometimes used synonymously with transfer.

The term ‘participatory irrigation management’ normally refers to the involvement of water users in irrigation management, along with the government. It is not the same as IMT - which is about replacing government, not just working with it. After transfer, the new service may or may not be provided directly by a farmer organization. The service provider may be a financially autonomous utility, semi-municipal water district, mutual company or other local entity. But it will normally be governed, at least in part, by the farmers, who are the primary users of the service.

IMT is further distinguished from decentralization, which normally refers to the movement of decision-making authority to regional or local levels from a central authority - but still within the same government organization. IMT is the transfer of responsibility for irrigation management from one organization to another.

Source: Douglas L. Vermillion, Juan A. Sagardoy. Transfer of Irrigation Management Services. Guidelines.
FAO Irrigation and Drainage Paper 58, 2004.