Socioeconomic Issues in Irrigation Literature: Approaches, Concepts, and Meanings

Elma Montaña1, Gabriela Pastor2, and Laura Torres2
“Knowledge Assessment on Sustainable Water Resources Management for Irrigation” (KASWARMI) project made evident cases of unsuccessful or non sustainable irrigation experiences that could only be explained by the underestimation of deep socioeconomic issues. This involves not only the social factors related to the implementation/adoption of new or better technologies by a wide spectrum of users but also the way in which water use and irrigation projects are conceived, planned and implemented by scientists, politicians and practitioners. The project was interested in assessing the social science inputs irrigation specialists receive. With this objective, this paper presents a state of the art on some selected socioeconomic subjects as they appear in the irrigation literature, and analyzes the way in which they are conceived, thought and articulated with the more “technical” factors of irrigation. This should be useful to raise new avenues of research and to enhance articulation of “technical” and social science approaches in quest of a more close to sustainability irrigation practices. A first search covered eight of the most prestigious journals devoted to irrigation subjects. After this search yielded meager results in terms of the amount of papers found, a new search was conducted, without restraining to specific journals but moving freely with a deliberate thematic purpose. The results showed less socioeconomic issues than desirable in the papers within easy reach of irrigation engineers, a meager presence of Latin American cases and an approach to socioeconomic subjects that lack comprehensiveness, as they did not appear to be fully articulated with the technical subjects of irrigation.
Keywords: irrigation, socioeconomic issues, social sciences, state of the art
1Instituto de Ciencias Humanas, Sociales y Ambientales (INCIHUSA), Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET) y Universidad Nacional de Cuyo, CC 131, M5502IRA, Mendoza, Argentina. (emontana@lab.cricyt.edu.ar) 2Instituto Argentino de Investigaciones de las Zonas Áridas (IADIZA), Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET), CC 131, M5502IRA, Mendoza, Argentina. (gpastor@mendoza-conicet.gov.ar, ltorres@mendoza-conicet.gov.ar)