JIS News

An Act to Amend the Irrigation Act, 2003, was approved on Tuesday (Nov. 4) by the House of Representatives. The legislation, piloted by Minister of Water and Housing, Donald Buchanan, seeks to recognize the inclusion of the Water Users Associations in the management and operation of all new and all rehabilitated irrigation systems identified for construction under the National Irrigation Development Programme.
It is also intended to establish Water Users Associations in selected existing irrigation systems and makes way for a permanent provision for the licensing of Water Users Association to carry out irrigation functions.
The amendments also facilitate the participation of farmers and users in the operation and management of irrigation systems through Water Users Associations.
While supporting the Bill, Opposition Spokesman on Agriculture, J.C. Hutchinson, raised concerns about the opportunity of recourse that could be taken by farmers in the case where there was no regular supply of water from the licensee responsible for supplying the water.
“We do not have a problem with this Irrigation Act. If a farmer does not get his regular supplies of water and if you find that his crop fails because he does not get water, is there any recourse that can be taken by the farmer to recover whatever can be recovered from the licensee?” he asked.
Emphasising the need for the amended Act, Minister of Agriculture, Roger Clarke stated, “I support the Bill and I believe that this is an opportunity to really make the small farmer in his and her community come onboard and begin to understand the running of the business.”
In closing the debate, Minister Buchanan said that any successful restructuring and development of the irrigation sector must incorporate the involvement of the farmers and the users in the operation and maintenance of irrigation systems.
“We believe the advent of the Water Users Associations provide an excellent model for the participation of the farmers in this sector. As a consequence, the passage of the Irrigation (Amendment) Act, 2003 will provide the legal framework for the implementation of this new paradigm shift as well as the basis for sustainable national development,” he said.

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