Institutional Development

1. Communal irrigation projects and systems 
2. National irrigation systems

NIA's institutional development program (IDP) is based on Presidential Decree (PD) 552's mandate to delegate the partial or full management of national irrigation systems (NIS) to duly organized cooperatives or associations and centers on the organization and empowerment of farmer-beneficiaries. Farmers are organized into Irrigators Associations (IA) and strengthened through training activities to make them more effective partners of NIA in irrigation development and management.

An IA is a non-sectarian, non-stock, and non-profit organization of farmer-beneficiaries. The formation of an IA starts from the identification and listing of the individual farm lots and the potential beneficiaries who are later on grouped according to hydrologic boundaries and layout of the water distribution system.

Communal irrigation projects and systems

NIA's IDP started with PD 552's provision that farmer-beneficiaries must pay back the cost of construction or rehabilitation of their communal irrigation systems. Repayment could only be possible if farmers manage their systems well, collecting fees from themselves. Many of the communal associations were weak in the 1970s. In 1975, NIA contracted the Farm Systems Development Corporation to undertake the organization of communal associations while it would be responsible for the construction activities. Coordination problems between the two cropped up later.

NIA started the Participatory Approach Program (PAP) in 1980, combining its technical and institutional aspects. Farmers are consulted and involved in project identification, investigation, evaluation and selection, pre-construction and construction, and eventually operation and maintenance (O&M) of communal systems. They are organized into IAs and trained to be self-reliant and self-governing partners from planning to management of the systems. The training activities include leadership, financial management and systems operation. It has been observed that communal systems built with the farmers participating in all phases of the systems' development are more functional. Irrigation systems constructed without consultation with and the participation of water users were not as acceptable as those planned and constructed with their involvement.

National irrigation systems

The success of PAP in the communal systems led NIA to implement the Management Turnover Program (MTP) and, recently, the Irrigation Management Transfer (IMT) Program in the NIS. Under both programs, NIA entrusts or passes on to farmers, through the IA, the responsibility of managing part or the whole system, retaining only O&M of major facilities. In the future, as farmers' capability is developed, IA will be commensurately entrusted bigger responsibilities. The contract arrangements under MTP cover the following:

1. Under a Maintenance Contract, the IAs undertake routine maintenance works of a certain length of the irrigation canal system. They are paid P1,400 per month for satisfactory maintenance of 3.5 kilometers (km) of canals (if unlined) and 7.0 km (if lined).
2. With a Systems Operations and Irrigation Service Fee (ISF) Collection Contract, the IAs undertake systems operations of a portion of a system and collection of ISF from its members. They get incentives for assisting NIA in these activities based on the amount of ISF collected.

IAs are entitled to a minimum of two percent of their collection if they attain at least 51 percent collection and a maximum of 15 percent for 91-100 percent collection of current accounts. In addition, they are entitled to two percent of collections from new back accounts and 25 percent from old back accounts.
3. Under complete turnover, the management of the whole or part of an irrigation system is fully turned over to the IAs. The IAs will amortize the investment and rehabilitation costs of the facilities turned over to them for a period not exceeding 50 years.

The IMT Program focuses on developing the technical and financial capabilities of IAs in handling substantial O&M responsibilities. It is carried out under a joint system management arrangement where NIA retains its responsibility in maintaining the main irrigation and drainage facilities while the IAs are responsible for the secondary facilities. NIA and the IAs share in the benefits and burden in the O&M of the systems.