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The irrigation system of Punjab has been helpful in facilitating the farming community since 19th century. The system was designed keeping in view the agricultural needs of that time. Due to system constraints and water management problems, the efficiency of the system is ranging from 35%-40% in terms of efficient water use. The major problems being faced are the reliability of irrigation supplies to farmers, equity and sustainability in physical and financial terms.

On cognizant of the problems in irrigated agriculture and water management in the province, Government of the Punjab decided to adopt the institutional reforms in irrigation sector. Hence, during June-1997, the Punjab Provincial Assembly passed the “Punjab Irrigation & Drainage Authority Act.” This was an important step in the process of implementing the necessary institutional reforms in the irrigation sector. The reforms  are focused on decentralization of the irrigation system management through public and private partnership i.e. the participation of farmers and resource governance. In short, this Act provides decentralization of a centrally-controlled irrigation system (Provincial Irrigation Department) into a three tier public private partnership based management system.

In view of the immense importance of irrigation in agriculture, Government of Pakistan is placing great emphasis on the irrigation sector. In context of the basic objective of irrigation to provide equitable and sustained irrigation to the culture-able land, the Government was consistently under criticism from its beneficiaries and other stakeholders in regard of insufficient quantity of water, inequitable water distribution, impartial dispute resolution, non-transparency in the maintenance of the system etc. All these essential factors have led the Government to introduce policies and adopt actions as identified by global research for institutional set up of better governance in management of irrigation infrastructure. Thus, the Government initiated Institutional Reforms in the irrigation system of the Province to improve Irrigation Management with the involvement of farmers.

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