The operation and maintenance of irrigation schemes require FWUC to undertake the following general functions of System operation, water management and sharing (setting up rules); Maintenance of infrastructures; Irrigation Service Fee collection; Administrative and financial management; Institutional management (decision making, election, communication with members) and External relations with other stakeholders.
Looking into details, the proper implementation of these major functions requires a large variety of tasks and skills such as:
- Engineering, design, preparation of bidding documents, topographic survey, etc.
- Accounting, financial auditing, etc.
- Information database management
- Legal advise
- Contacting government, organizing meeting with local authorities
Depending on FWUC size and budget, not all of these functions can be learnt by the farmers and not all of them are required permanently. Where do FWUC can find support?
Depending on the scheme size, different organizational options could be proposed from the very small FWUC (village level) who may not need a very professional organization to the very large ones who will choose the option of professionalization, with more salaried staff, and will be able to internalize more specific functions thanks to scale economies. For example, Prey Nup PUC has its own accountant, manages a database of land owners and plots, has staff skilled to implement topography work, prepare bidding documents or monitor works, but still need to externalize functions such as auditing. In between, the limits between internalized and externalized functions have to be defined for each specific case.
For externalized functions, existing commercial service providers do not always provide ad hoc services and/or are not affordable for FWUCs (e.g. an annual audit of accounting and finance, provided by a local certified accountant company, cost from 1,000 to 4,000 USD).
From his side, PDOWRAM / FWUC department is mainly involved in the phase of creating FWUC, providing them with legal recognition and offering basic training in management. Its intervention is limited in time and scope. GRET and CEDAC conclusion was that there is room (and need) for the development of alternative service providers and to strengthen links between FWUCs and existing service providers.