It is with great sadness that we learned last month of the death of Dr. Madar Samad, Emeritus Scientist at the International Water Management Institute, who passed away at the age of 74, having served the institution for over two decades.
Samad started his more than two-decade career at IWMI in 1991 when it was known as the International Irrigation Management Institute (IIMI). Prior to joining IWMI, he worked with the Agrarian Research and Training Institute (ARTI) in Sri Lanka. He obtained a PhD in Agricultural Economics from Wye College, University of London, UK, in 1990.
He first served as the Assistant to the Director of Research, which gave him a new focus and energy for research, and this would change his whole professional career for years to come. He played a key role in supporting local management of irrigation systems and was heavily involved in testing and validating knowledge applications of internationally established best practices to specific regional contexts.
In 2002 Samad was appointed as Theme Leader for Water Resources Institutions and Policies. In this capacity, he led IWMI’s research into attaining high productivity of water in irrigated agriculture to improve people’s lives. He worked tirelessly on important policy tools, organizational designs and institutional frameworks that power impacts in the field. The ensuing years, he brought in new perspectives to research on policies with his experiences from countries like Sudan, Burkina Faso, Pakistan, Indonesia, India and Nepal, looking at irrigation as part of water management. While his key focus was on institutional reforms in water resources development, he also took an active interest in topics such as privatization of irrigation schemes, interactions of rainfed and irrigated agriculture, agricultural economic studies and the impact of irrigation management programs on poverty alleviation.
In 2004 Samad moved to IWMI’s Hyderabad office, where he continued to strengthen research activities in the South Asian region and was later appointed as the Regional Director for Asia. He was also Theme Leader for Water Futures, and later Water and Society, wearing many hats during this period. He continued research on water policy and institutional reforms, participatory irrigation management, water users’ associations and the political and institutional context of water sector in Sri Lanka.
He was a member of the steering committee on the project on Irrigation Sector Reform in Central and East European Counties initiated by the European Regional Working Group (ERWG) of the International Commission of Irrigation and Drainage (ICID). He was also a team member (appointed by the World Bank) to assess the impact of participatory irrigation management (PIM) in India.
Upon his retirement in 2012, Samad was awarded Emeritus Scientist status at IWMI where he continued to contribute to his pet topics of political economy, institutional reforms and policies. He was well-liked by his colleagues who will remember him for his deep discussions on politics, economics and agriculture. He loved gardening, and listening to music both western and eastern. He had a keen interest in sports, especially cricket and tennis. He will be greatly missed by everyone who knew him. He is survived by his wife, Zeena, his children and their families.