Legal Base of FWUC’s Operation in Cambodia

FWUC stands for Farmer Water User Community, a legal entity established to support especially agricultural water users to operate and maintain the irrigation systems, after it was built. There are currently more than 300 FWUCs registered at the level of the Ministry of Water Resource and Meteorology (MOWRAM), with some few more at the local (commune) level. According to MOWRAM, around 2,400 irrigation schemes do exist in Cambodia. This article is aimed to provide summary information concerning legal structure to support the FWUCs.  The legal base of FWUCs operation is set by Circular n°1.

Water reservoir around Angkor Wat complex, built in the 12th century

Water reservoir around Angkor Wat complex, built in the 12th century

1. Circular n°1 (1999) and its appendix on the status of FWUC describes mostly the objectives of Participatory Irrigation Management and Development (PIMD) and the founding principles for FWUCs: FWUCs will take over O&M management of the scheme, FWUCs statute model, formulation for calculation of the Irrigation Service fee (ISF), ISF collection procedure and share cost formula between state and FWUC (over five years) etc. Note: all of these provisions are repeated in the Policy below.

2. Policy for sustainability of operation and maintenance irrigation system (2000) is based on the following basic principles: Legal framework of FWUC, Involvement of FWUC in system development, Obligation of farmers to pay the O&M cost and emergency cost of O&M, Permanent maintenance and improvement of existing irrigation systems, Arranging the water delivery in an equitable and effective manner, Human and technical support from the MOWRAM etc.

3. Law on Water Resources Management (2007) emphasizes: Inventory of water resources and uses by MOWRAM, Registration of users by PDOWRAM and MOWRAM, Allocation of water rights with a license agreement, Payment of water fees/irrigation service fee (ISF), Integrated water resources management (IWRM) and Watershed Management, Central role of the MOWRAM in managing the resource, Definition of priority areas of implementation, Promotion of FWUCs establishment, registration at PDOWRAM (Chapter 4, article 19) etc.

The spillway of the Stung Chinit Irrigation Scheme constructed in 2006 in the first year of its operation

The 700 meter spillway of the Stung Chinit Irrigation Scheme, Kampong Thom province, constructed in 2006, in the first year of its operation

(Full text of the article 19 concerning FWUC: In order to manage and operate the irrigation schemes effectively and sustainably, MOWRAM shall have the responsibility to establish the Farmer Water User Community. Farmers, who use or partly use the schemes together, have the rights to set up FWUCs. The statute of the FWUC shall be registered at the PDOWRAM. After the registration, FWUCs have ultimate rights to implement the statute and is fully recognized as legal entity. The Procedure to establish and demolish the role and duties of the FWUCs shall be defined in a sub-decree, unofficial translation by author).

Main canal bringing water from Baray reservoir in Siem Reap province. The huge Baray reservoir was built by humans in the tenth century still being used today.

Main canal bringing water from Baray reservoir in Siem Reap province to the rice fields. The huge Baray reservoir was built by humans in the tenth century still being used today. Photo taken in 2011.

4. Draft Sub-Decree on FWUCs, specify the basic principles for development and operation of the FWUCs, the rights, authority and obligations of the FWUC, the essential content of statute etc. It is drafted since 1999 with the technical support of various development partners, but it is still pending in the Council of Ministers right now. It is expected that after the review done by MOWRAM, the sub-decree will be re-submitted and is expected to be signed after national election 2013.

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6 Comments

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