The Adaptive Participatory Integrated Approach
is a method of irrigation management
The prevailing sectoral approach to irrigation management has tended to prevent optimal use of water for agriculture
. Adoption of an Adaptive, Participatory and Integrated Assessment
(APIA) of the impacts of irrigation on fisheries can ensure that poverty
is alleviated, and food security
and livelihoods are enhanced rather than hurt by irrigation development. It also provides an opportunity to decrease conflicts between fishers and farmers, and to increase overall benefits of irrigation systems at little additional cost.
The approach has been designed in interaction with a multidisciplinary team of researchers, as part the production of the "Guidance Manual for the Management of Impacts of Irrigation Development on Fisheries" (Lorenzen, Smith et al. 2004). The proposed APIA approach was tested through an ex-ante impact assessment in Lao PDR and an ex-post assessment in Sri Lanka.
The benefits of APIA compared to a conventional narrow technical assessment have been shown to include the following:
- The ability to study inland fisheries in a larger context of multiple competing uses for water and alternative livelihood opportunities, with explicit identification of conflicts within a sequential, structured and management oriented process;
- The aim for addressing the most important issues and solutions to be sought;
- The emphasis on existing opportunities and the need for workable and cost effective mitigation and enhancement measures, with avoidance where possible of costly modifications to the irrigation infrastructure or other engineering solutions;
- The strong motivation for stakeholders to seek out complementarities between irrigation and fisheries and to minimize trade-offs, with the potential to determine "win-win" solutions from resolution of conflicts between farmers and fishers.
However, use of APIA approach can be demanding of time, expertise for its implementation and in requirements for its support. In particular adequate awareness and strong institutional support are essential at all relevant levels of governance. Participatory processes can be biased if the representation and influence of competing groups is unbalanced, and there is risk that undue emphasis is given to conflicts that are difficult to resolve. Participation and local knowledge can be of great value, but should not be a substitute for rigorous technical assessment where this is necessary. Finally cumulative and synergistic impacts on fisheries of multiple irrigation schemes and other water resource developments within a river basin need to be further investigated.