Institutional and Social Innovations in Irrigation — Mediterranean Management (ISIIMM)

Level: International
Region: Mediterranean region
Tags: Capacity building & knowledge transfer | Institutional measure | Stakeholder involvement
Target audience: Agricultural authorities | Citizens | Environmental authorities | Farmers | National government | NGOs and CSOs | Regional government | Scientists | Students/university | Water authorities | Water companies

The aims of the ISIIMM project were to share experiences and knowledge and to build new perspectives for sustainable water management in Mediterranean agriculture. The project helped rural communities to adapt to problems resulting from water-related pressures through institutional changes.


The ISIIMM project worked on eleven different case studies inside the river basins of six Mediterranean countries. The project developed its main activities with the full participation of its target groups. It involved local partners, water users, development agents, researchers, NGOs, public services and administrations in the development of water management strategies and action plans. It also discussed institutional arrangements for the sustainable management of water resources with the aim of transitioning to new water-sharing behaviours and institutional innovations.

A wide range of training workshops and seminars were held. These activities allowed the target groups to gain a better understanding of the problems in Mediterranean irrigation management and enabled them to solve these in more suitable ways.

Main activities included:

  • facilitating coordination between water managers and other actors in each river-basin;
  • strengthening institutional capacities and training in irrigation water management;
  • promoting a better understanding of the key mechanisms through project partner networks;
  • identifying solutions to water-related conflicts;
  • organising information developed through the Organisation System for Information and Research on Irrigation and Societies (OSIRIS), which underpinned different dimensions of the ISIIMM project; and
  • exchanging information and transfer of know-how.

Phases of Implementation

The project was implemented through three main phases:

1) statements on case studies;
2) thematic and exchange seminars; and
3) dissemination and final outputs.

The first phase was been devoted to national and local case studies, and involved drawing up a statement of conditions and aims for each river basin and country by using a participatory approach and based on existing documentation and a scientific assessment from ISIIMM project experts. The approach also assessed institutional organisation and practices.

The second and third phases focused on social and institutional innovations through the carrying out of some fifteen bilateral and trilateral seminars between the six partner countries (Egypt, France, Italy, Lebanon, Morocco and Spain). Most of the seminars were held in the MEDA countries, and were complemented by field visits with farmers, managers of public organisations and canal managers.

Results obtained

  • Achievement of common knowledge, comprehension of social and institutional irrigation management, and creation of adapted institutional tools
  • New perspectives for irrigation development policies and innovation at local level through the elaboration of guidelines and documents synthesising the 11 ISIIMM river-basin cases
  • Created OSIRIS (Organisation System for Information and Research on Irrigation and Societies) and communication products
  • Training and dissemination through website and distance learning

Success factors

  • The will of farmers to improve their practices and water management techniques by sharing their own experiences and learning from each other
  • The presence of scientists and development professionals
  • The learning process covered the whole range of issues of collective water management
  • ISIIMM made considerable efforts to disseminate its results through books, films, newsletters, guides and other media

Indicators used

  • Number of organisations involved
  • Number of farmers organised
  • Negotiation agenda with the institutions
  • Number of training workshops and exchange seminars (local and national)
  • Number of field visits with farmers, managers of public organisations and canal managers
  • Legal recognition of the water management role of irrigators in their local context
  • Participation in water regulatory bodies, such as watershed agencies
  • Existence of conflict-resolution legislation among the irrigators themselves, and between different users of other resources
  • Willingness of irrigation administrations to exchange ideas and scientific research

The project can be implemented in any other country where farmers, managers of public organisations and canal managers are interested in irrigation development. It requires the training of a group of professionals as future professional project managers/experts for future projects.

Total costs

  • EUR 5.7 million