© Sudipto Das

Corruption Risks and Governance Challenges in the Irrigation Sector


Irrigation water supply can significantly improve the lives of poor households in developing countries. However, the reliable supply of irrigation is often hindered by corrupt practices at different levels of the irrigation sector. The main corruption risks identified in this study result from poor irrigation governance.

Canal irrigation, tubewell irrigation and wastewater irrigation are identified as three types of irrigation systems with specific governance and corruption risks. In public canal irrigation, the largest risk is related to capital intensive investments, and operation and maintenance by irrigation officials. In tubewell irrigation, corruption risks are mainly related to the regulation of groundwater overdraft. Wastewater irrigation is an informal practice with few corruption risks. However, the lack of formal governance increases health risks related to wastewater use.

As formalisation of the sector is on its way, vigilance is required to prevent corruption in the future. The identified corruption risks can be addressed by taking case-specific action to increase transparency, accountability and participation at different levels of the irrigation sector. […]