Irrigation is of great importance for the agriculturally-predominant country of Kyrgyzstan, and the adequate operation and maintenance (O&M) of irrigation systems is required to support agricultural productivity in the country. A process of irrigation management transfer from the government to farm-based Water Users Associations (WUAs) has been pursued in the country for about a decade, but the results of institutionalization of WUAs are mixed. This thesis aims to explore the factors enabling the development of WUAs to manage O&M of irrigation infrastructure and ensure equitable and reliable water distribution to farmers. The research results show that WUAs are still too institutionally and financially fragile to secure the long-term physical sustainability of on-farm irrigation structures and reliable water distribution. The absence of the rule of law, financial and management incapability of WUAs, ignorance of water users about WUAs and their mandate, inactive participation of farmers and their lack of commitment to contribute to organizational initiatives, among other factors, are concluded to be core elements jeopardizing the development of WUAs. Based on this analysis, recommendations for sustainable development of these farm-based water management organizations are provided.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Water in agriculture--Kyrgyzstan--Societies, etc.; Irrigation--Management--Research--Kyrgyzstan; Kyrgyzstan--Economic conditions--21st century

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Science, Technology and Public Policy (MS)

Department, Program, or Center

Department of Science Technology and Society/Public Policy (CLA)


James Winebrake

Advisor/Committee Member

Daene McKinney

Advisor/Committee Member

William Larsen


Physical copy available from RITs Wallace Library at S494.5.W3 A49 2004


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