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What role can information play in improved equity in Pakistan’s irrigation system? Evidence from an experimental game in Punjab

Andrew Reid Bell, New York University, Department of Environmental Studies
M. Azeem A. Shah, International Water Management Institute
Arif Anwar, International Water Management Institute
Claudia Ringler, International Food Policy Research Institute


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The Indus Basin Irrigation System suffers significant inequity in access to surface water across its millions of users. Information, i.e., monitoring and reporting of water availability, may be of value in improving conditions across the basin, and we investigated this via an experimental game of water distribution in Punjab, Pakistan. We found evidence that flow information allowed players to take more effective action to target overuse, and that overall activities that might bring social disapproval were reduced with information. However, we did not find any overall improvement in equity across the system, suggesting that information on its own might not be sufficient to lead to better water distribution among irrigators.

Key words

framed field experiment; irrigation; Pakistan

Copyright © 2015 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087