"Effects of Training Duration and the Role of Gender on Farm Participation in Water User Associations in Southern Tajikistan: Implications for Irrigation Management

Soumya Balasubramanya, Research Group Leader-Water Innovations in Transforming Economies at The International Water Management Institute (IWMI), will present "Effects of training duration and the role of gender on farm participation in water user associations in Southern Tajikistan: implications for irrigation management" on Friday, November 16 from 10:30am-12:00pm in Room 250A of the Agricultural Administration Building (2120 Fyffe Rd, Columbus, OH 43210).

Abstract: Participatory water user associations (WUAs) are a popular way of managing the delivery of water for irrigation.  Most quantitative assessments of factors encouraging participation in WUAs are conducted using cross-sectional data. Conducting rigorous evaluations is often challenging because assignment of members to WUAs is not random and counterfactuals are difficult to identify. WUAs are typically created in contexts where there were previously no participatory institutions, which complicates benchmarking baseline participation.  In this paper, we examined the causal effects of training duration on the likelihood of farm participation in WUAs in a context where no participatory organization existed before the training began, and where only managers of farms—98% of whom are male—were directly trained. We also examined whether participation was affected when farms were managed by members who were not directly trained.  We sampled 1,855 farms in Southern Tajikistan, where managers of farms in 40 subdistricts received longer training, while those in the other 40 received shorter training. These ‘treatment’ and ‘control’ subdistricts were selected from a population of subdistricts by constructing propensity scores and conducting 1:1 matching without replacement to address selection effects on observable confounders that may affect participation. Farms in these 80 subdistricts were then selected from a census of farms through a stratified random sampling process. A difference-in-difference technique with right-hand-side covariates was employed, where both sets of data were collected after training was completed. This choice of econometric methods controls against selection effects, but introduces a potential bias due to measurement error. An alternative method that only compared the differences in outcomes at a single point in time after the new institutions were created would have provided an inaccurate estimate of the effects of the intervention. This is a context in which methods such as synthetic controls are impossible to employ due to the nature of the intervention, other macroeconomic structural changes, and severe data restrictions. Despite the potential bias due to the methods useds, the results provide evidence for extending the scope of training programs to target female irrigators, in order to strengthen institutions whose success depends on active farm participation, and therefore has value for policy and management purposes.