In-crisis delivery rate: a novel measure of success in communal water management
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Of the plethora of studies that discuss requirements for successful irrigation management, few pay close attention to what actually happens when the supply of water becomes extremely low. Such an oversight in the literature is unfortunate, because this is precisely when management matters. To understand what separates success from failure in irrigation management at times of critical water shortages, the authors conducted emergency fieldwork in February 2010 along four major irrigation channels in a drought-stricken rice-growing area within the Chinese province of Yunnan. Separately, satellite images of the four villages dated February 2009 and February 2010 were jointly analysed to produce a novel indicator for a village’s success in water management. Called the in-crisis delivery rate, this indicator compares water delivery between normal and drought years and directly evaluates performance in water management during crisis periods. The results led to an unexpected discovery that, contrary to common expectations, the only village of the present study that deployed a traditional earthen water channel secured substantially more water throughout the drought period than those with concrete-lined channels. It is hypothesised that the labour intensive, rather than capital intensive, nature of repair work of the earthen channel enabled flexible operations, and hence had the comparative advantage under a skilled management team. This result confirms the importance of daily maintenance work, which tends to occur less often after modernisation of water paths.
KeywordsDrought Performance indicator Remote sensing Water management
This research was supported by Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Grant-in-aid (#21405025).
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