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It is very important to understand that the more difficult areas for strengthening the institutional capabilities are also the areas with many physical limitations. The main reasons for poor performance in Swamp Development projects are two-fold, both resulting in a poor on-farm development in these areas:
There will be no progress in institutional strengthening and successful O&M by farmers without solving the technological knowledge gap and improving the yields!
It proves that only successful areas with good yields have strong Water Users Associations who are able to carry out the O&M according planning.
In the recent past the O&M was mainly carried out by the government and there was little involvement of the farmers. Next there was too little maintenance carried out with the result that the expenses for rehabilitation of the system required high investments periodically.
Because of the present difficult economic conditions in Indonesia relatively little money is available for O&M. For that reason the World Bank decided that funds would be made available for O&M from the ISDP Loan. This would include the set-up of a new system for O&M with increased input from the farmers.
It is hoped that strengthening the Water Users Associations (WUA's) and involving the farmers through the WUA's in O&M it could be made more sustainable for the future. The availability of funds for the WUA's would be an incentive to promote farmers participation in O&M. The whole process of the new system of implementation of O&M is described in detailed procedures and handbooks.
As a start to this process O&M Model areas were introduced in ISDP, some of them especially proposed in the more difficult to operate areas, and to try out how they can be managed and improved.
Presently the O&M Model Areas as proposed in the ISDP project, and funded with assistance of the World Bank, provide a tool to address a number of problems for implementing the new system. An integrated approach will be used involving Public Works and Agriculture. First of all the agreed appropriate soil and water management systems will be applied for the different environmental conditions. Obtaining high yields is a must. Monitoring the key parameters in the Model Areas will be the tool to make adjustments.
There has been obtained already considerable experience during the Telang-Saleh project (1993-1996) in organizing farmer's groups in pilot areas. This experience has been used in operating the Model Areas and maximize its impact area. Introduction of new technologies with farmer's groups and to organize the farmers, such that they will maintain the system themselves, requires considerable time and inputs. A very important tool for implementing the system are the Group Organizers. They are local young enthusiastic persons with a minimum of education. It proves that local young Women are very good for this job as they can address more easily both men and women in Indonesia. It is not only O&M what should be addressed for development, but all aspects are important including women in development.
My personal experience is that also it is very important that funds are available to implement local adjustments to the water management system such as extra tertiary canals (sub-tersier), double connected canals, culverts, dikes for flood protection in home-stead areas etc.etc. For this purpose knowledgeable persons should make transects through the areas together with the WUA's and the Group Organizers to assess the local problems and to find together the solutions.
All parties involved in Swamp Development should find ways to improve the involvement of farmers and the local government in the on-farm development and the O&M of the swamp schemes. We must analyse the constraints in this respect and provide recommendations for future development. A fully integrated approach in the Model Areas may work now in Indonesia and may encourage the development of a sustainable institutional framework for O&M. The proposed Model Area development should also concentrate on methodologies how farmers will be able to sustain the high yields after project completion.
Photo: Bapak Suyono, the Group Organizer of Pamusira O&M Model area. Providing training to him, winning his trust for what you propose on water management; how to improve the system. That is one of the keys for major development. Technological progress found by a mutual understanding how people experience the environment and see the possibilities for progress, that is what needed most of all. For the first time in many years this rice field has a reasonable yield in Pamusiran with relatively low inputs.
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