WEBINAR: Migration and gender dynamics in irrigation governance in Nepal


November 16, 2020


November 25, 2020, 8:00 pm - 9:30 pm Nepal time / 9:15 am US EST / 15:15 CET

Conveners:  Farmer Managed Irrigation System Promotion Trust (FMIST), Nepal; International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI); International Water Management Institute (IWMI); CGIAR Research Programs on Policies, Institutions, and Markets (PIM) and Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE).

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Also read: Women’s empowerment, extended families and male migration in Nepal: Insights from mixed methods analysis (Discussion paper)

Widespread male migration from rural areas is one of the most important forces shaping agrarian transformation in Nepal. One particularly important area affected is the governance and management of local public goods, especially irrigation systems. Given the crucial role of irrigation in agricultural productivity and food security, attention to gender in irrigation governance is not only necessary for existing systems, but also opens potential new opportunities for sustainable and inclusive development in rural Nepal.

This webinar will present results of a quantitative and qualitative study to identify the various measures in which irrigation system governance has responded to male migration. This includes (a) results of a phone survey conducted with Water Users Association chairpersons of 336 irrigation systems across all provinces in Nepal, including farmer-managed, agency-managed, and jointly-managed systems; (b) case studies of 10 irrigation systems that FMIST has worked with over the years; and (c) two detailed case studies representing hill and terai systems.

The study provides critical evidence regarding the sources of technological and institutional innovations in irrigation that are associated with continued performance of irrigation systems, and strategies to ensure women’s role to participate in irrigation management decisions and to derive benefit/ burden from the role change in irrigation governance.


  • Welcome: Mr. Madhukar Rajbhandari, Director General, Department of Water Resources and Irrigation.
  • Objectives: Prachanda Pradhan, Patron, Farmer Managed Irrigation System Promotion Trust
  • Presentations:
    • “Irrigation system responses to male migration: Quantitative results of a phone survey” - Ruth Meinzen-Dick and Wei Zhang, Senior Research Fellows, International Food Policy Research Institute
    • “Impacts of migration on gender dynamics in irrigation governance in Nepal - Findings from case study of 10 irrigation systems” - Ujjwal Pradhan, Chief of Party, Forest-PLUS 2.0: Forests for Water and Prosperity (USAID/the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) of India program)
    • “Gendered Institutional Dynamics (Re)shaping Women’s Roles in Water User Associations" - Manita Raut, Senior Research Officer, International Water Management Institute
  •  Remarks:
    • Pranita Udas, Research Fellow, Thompson Rivers University, Canada
    • Chanda Gurung Goodrich, ICIMOD
  • Q&A with the online audience (questions will be taken via chat)
  • Closing and vote of thanks: Ruth Meinzen-Dick

Please feel free to use the "Leave a Reply" field below to submit questions on the webinar's topic in advance. We will collect them and address during the live event. 

PIM supported this research as part of Flagship 5: Governance of Natural Resources and Flagship 6: Cross-cutting Gender Research and Coordination.

Photo by Manita Raut, IWMI

More news from Flagship 5: Governance of Natural ResourcesMore news from Flagship 6: Cross-cutting Gender Research and Coordination


  1. Sushil Subedee says

    Comments / Questions
    1. Out migration from communities has essentially burdened women and elderly with extra work load. With the new demand to involve them (women) in irrigation activities, including formal committees, aren't we adding to their woes? Moreover practical evidences have demonstrated that inclusion of women in the decision making of irrigation systems has been ceremonious only.
    2. Engagement of women in irrigation activities, mainly in committees, may deprive them of other likely economic activities where they could earn. So should the women compensated for their participation in irrigation?
    3. FMIS in general are accredited for their fair governance. Nevertheless it is equally true that in several occasions we find only a select-few upholding the baton. FMIS may not always follow ideal democratic values. What would be the functionality of such values, norms induced from outside, particularly from the external project interventions?
    4. Locational advantage in the irrigation canal system normally undermines equity consideration. This again relates to democratic governance. But in practice the social capital of the community largely provides amicable solution.
    5. Finally, voluntary programs are excellent but there is all the likelihood that they may not be carried out. So it may be the time now for the policy makers and practitioners to look into this aspect.

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