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Water Rights

In most countries in the world, the agricultural sector consumes by far the greatest amount of freshwater. At the same time, a large and steadily growing part of the world’s food production directly depends on irrigation. The issue of how to arrange rights to irrigation water, in relation both to other water users and and to uses other than irrigation, has become a pivotal issue in international policy debates. Often, however, efforts to develop modern water rights override the question of how existing water property relations actually function. This commonly leads to water reform and intervention programs that bypass the grounded experiences and lessons of local, farmer-managed water use systems—systems that involve community or other forms of collective group control, which in many regions contribute ...

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