Institutional analysis of irrigation water management : a case of the Vea irrigation scheme in Ghana
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- Institutt for geografi 
Water, as a fluid resource is inherently a ‘fugitive resource’. Its sustainable and effective management has been a challenging one over the decades since it has constantly eluded a linear or a straightforward management regime. Various attempts have been made to design institutions for its effective governance but this is still inconclusive. This dissertation focuses on the analysis of the institutions that govern water and attempt to understand how water is managed within the Vea irrigation scheme in Ghana. The impact of irrigation on farmers’ incomes was further assessed. Qualitative methods, particularly interviews and focus group discussions were employed to achieve the objectives. Irrigators and irrigation management officials within the scheme formed the research participants. The theoretical foundations of this work is mainstream institutionalism led by Elinor Ostrom and critical institutionalism led by Frances Cleaver. This research produced a number of interesting key findings. In the first place the research found that different stakeholders had ownership of land depending on the season. The research found that the boundary of the resource and the community of users was fluid and kept changing depending on factors such as canal integrity, the season, rainfall amount and distribution. Farmers operated largely with informal rules. Traditional invisible institutions played a key role in the management of the irrigation scheme. Though farmers operated with rules, these rules were not deliberately crafted and written down. Farmers utilised informal conflict resolution mechanisms to resolve conflicts instead of the formal court system. The sanctioning regimes in place were effective but not fair. Contrary to popular literature that irrigators downstream are disadvantaged this study found that farmers who were located at the tail end and largely practiced pump farming were better positioned and performed better than formal irrigators upstream who performed canal irrigation. The research further found that the formal and informal irrigation systems existed and operated together under the same official management, an innovation that shows that the informal sector is amenable to formal governance. The research further indicated that irrigation had a positive impact on the incomes of farmers as irrigation provided the incomes for investing in alternative income generation ventures and putting up physical infrastructure such as accommodation. The research argues that in establishing irrigation schemes and irrigation management systems the informal institutions should not be overlooked since their inclusion will go a long way to reduce conflicts within the system.