Learning sustainable water practices through participatory irrigation management in Thailand



Participatory irrigation management (PIM) was adopted in Thailand in 2004 to encourage the sustainable use of water in the agricultural sector. The research presented in this paper sought to understand the relationships between public participation, learning, and the implementation of more sustainable water practices through PIM in Thailand. Data was collected through document reviews, observation, informal meetings, and a total of 55 semi-structured face-to-face interviews of local irrigators from two case study regions around the Krasiew Reservoir. Results showed that participating in PIM activities facilitated both instrumental (e.g., water supply and demand data, benefits of on-time water delivery) and communicative (e.g., reasons for past PIM failure, expectations of fellow farmers) learning among PIM participants. Findings also revealed that social action is fostered through the recognition of human dignity and compassionate communication that instils a sense of ownership and solidarity among irrigators. Sustainable water practices among local farmers were spurred further through learning that the reservoir is a finite water source.