Learning about National Irrigation Administration (NIA) in the Philippines


From 17 – 26 June, representatives from the ‘ Water Supply & Sanitation Program in Binh Dinh Province’, the Phu My Irrigation Component and the Irrigation Program in Ninh Phuoc (Ninh Thuan Province) went on a studytour to the Philippines. The studytrip was organised by the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) with whom they could visit the Bustos Dam and Cabago Irrigators Association. They also had the opportunity to interact with some farmer-beneficiaries and participate in trainings on ‘Farmers Participation in Operation and Maintenance’.

The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) is a government-owned and controlled corporation (GOCC) primarily responsible for irrigation development in the Philippines. They investigate, study, improve, construct and administer all national irrigation systems (NIS) and collect the Irrigation Service Fees (ISF) from their users, which are necessary to finance the continuous operation of the system.

Recently, the ‘Water Supply & Sanitation Program in Binh Dinh Province’ started working on an institutional-organisational development of Participatory Irrigation Management (PIM) at provincial level with Phu My District as pilot area. The issue that the project addresses implies institutional reform; a process that includes stakeholder analysis, reviewing and adapting the legal framework (policies, laws, regulations, procedures etc.), improving cooperation mechanisms between stakeholders, adapting organisational structures and internal procedures etc.

In this context it was very interesting for the project to learn about the structure and organisation of NIA, to collect lessons-learned and include them into the irrigation component of the project.

Now, how does NIA work? For every Turnout Service Area (TSA), an area that is irrigated by one turnout, there exists a TSA Group, which consists of approximately 4 to 5 farmers and is the smallest unit. Then, the TSAGs of one subcanal are organised into Irrigators Assosciations (IA). IAs are very important partners of the government in irrigation development and management. They are in charge of an efficient and effective management of the O&M of the irrigation system. Finally, all the IAs within one irrigation system are organised in an IA Federation. This federation is responsible for coordinating the O&M activities within one irrigation system.

Although learning about the work of NIA, including structure, vision, objectives, powers and activities, was all very useful for the project, there was an anonymous conclusion amongst all participants that there are big differences with the structure of irrigation systems in Vietnam.

Nevertheless, several issues got the attention of the participants:

  • Beneficiaries paid very easily the Irrigation Service Fees (ISF) and water charges. This is also the case in Vietnam, however, member fees in Vietnam are highly subsidised by the government. This means members almost don’t pay anything from their own pockets.
  • Beneficiaries are willing to provide labour and give up their land to build infrastructure for irrigation systems.

These two aspects are of high importance for the project. They emphasise the cooperation of the beneficiaries with the irrigation system, something that will also be indispensable for a proper implementation of PIM in Binh Dinh Province.

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