Brief: Can irrigation management transfer stop the chain of rent-seeking in the water sector?

New Resource Available

Rent-seeking is the practice of obtaining economic rent – money/other gains on top of the expected or necessary earnings from products or services – by manipulating the social and political environment in which economic activities occur. This is done without creating any new wealth or benefits – value – for other parties. On the contrary, rent-seeking usually results in economic and social losses. Rent-seeking is not always illegal, such as when lobbying influences decision-making. Soliciting bribes is one example of illegal rent-seeking.

What are the dynamics of rent-seeking practices in the Indonesian irrigation sector, and what can be learnt from community-based development initiatives, such as irrigation management transfer?

Author, Diana Suhardiman, as part of PhD research in Indonesia, conducted in-depth semi-structured interviews with 31 farmers, 18 Federation of Water Users Association leaders, 28 Water Users Association leaders, 11 village government staff, and 11 field-level irrigation staff, on which this new brief is based.

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An earlier WIN-IWMI brief from July 2017 covers how to tackle institutionalized corruption in the Indonesian water sector.