|dc.description.abstract||From the 1990s, Turkish state irrigation services were increasingly transferred to local water users under the “participatory irrigation management” (PIM) program. Responsibility for the organisation and management of irrigation systems was transferred to local water user associations (WUAs) or organisations (WUOs), irrigation management organisations, or irrigation associations.i In this paper we refer mainly to the term “irrigation associations” (IAs), as all Turkish laws about irrigation commonly use this term in relation to local irrigation management.ii Typically, IAs, comprised of local farmer, traverse more than one village in a municipality (Kibaroglu et al., 2009: 295). On the participatory aspect of PIM and IAs, Yercan (2003: 205) described it ideally as “a process in which stakeholder’s influence policy formulation, investment choices and management decisions affecting their communities and establish the necessary sense of ownership”.
However, such participatory process has not matched the experience of PIM in Turkey, and many other countries adopting PIM, which include India (Reddy & Reddy, 2005), Morocco (Van der Brugge et al., 2005), Sri Lanka (Samad & Vermiilion, 1999), Phillipines (Peter, 2004), and Thailand (Ricks, 2015); as well as Mexico, Egypt, Jordan, Israel and Syria (Yercan, 2003). Turkey appears as another representation of inadequate (IA member) participatory performance. Interrelated participatory and operational performance problems soon emerged during and after the transfer processes began and seemingly have endured (Kudat & Bayram, 2000; Soylu et al., 2006; Uysal, 2006). These problems, in turn, have been associated with exacerbated environmental sustainability issues of water quality, pollution, salinization, and water scarcity (e.g., Cakmak et al., 2007: 875-877; Özerol et al., 2013).
The problem this paper addresses is how might the participatory performance of IAs be enhanced in relation to local member participatory and associated environmental sustainability issues? However, it is difficult to satisfactorily assess Turkey’s participatory performance of PIM as prior Turkish studies of PIM inadequately explain the nature and scope of participation, and the association to environmental problems. Resulting is an opaque and rather limited assessment of participation in PIM practices and decision-making; which is of further concern when Turkey’s 81 provinces feature farming.||