IWMI Research Report – 162

Landlordism, Tenants and the Groundwater Sector: Lessons from Tarai-Madhesh, Nepal


Sugden, F. 2014. Landlordism, tenants and the groundwater sector: lessons from Tarai-Madhesh, Nepal. Colombo, Sri Lanka: International Water Management Institute (IWMI). 33p. (IWMI Research Report 162). [doi: 10.5337/2015.204]



Over recent decades, there has been a shift in the focus of government irrigation schemes towards groundwater development throughout the Gangetic Plains, especially in the Nepal Tarai-Madhesh. This report explores the impact of landlord-tenant relations on access to groundwater irrigation. Tenant farmers have a reduced incentive to invest in pumping equipment and the boring of tube wells due to the high cost involved, insecure tenure and high rent payments, while landlords themselves have been shown to offer little support. The report suggests that it is crucial that policymakers are aware of the challenges posed by landlordism today in the Tarai and elsewhere in the Gangetic Plains, and remain engaged in debates over land reform. There are also a number of initiatives which could facilitate more equitable access to groundwater, which include allowing tenants without legal papers to apply for groundwater irrigation, systems for collective ownership of equipment, and greater targeting of programs and policies towards the tenant farmer class.

ISBN 978-92-9090-814-2