This paper reviews Jordan's relatively short experience gained since participatory irrigation management (PIM), was introduced with due consideration of the traditional social and cultural merits. The introduction of PIM was a meaningful partial shift in the paradigm of operation of the Jordan Valley irrigation system that has been undertaken by government agencies since its staged implementation between 1960 and 1988. The Jordan Valley Authority (JVA) of the Ministry of Water and Irrigation, among other responsibilities, is the current government agency in charge of operation and maintenance of the irrigation system. The advantages of the introduced mode of operation, the PIM, especially in an environment of perpetual irrigation water shortage, are presented.
The paper further discusses the multi-dimensional facets of PIM expressed by the representation of users’ community and by the level of representation as well as the interaction between the targeted groups and the government and highlights the virtues of “learning while implementing” in which midcourse corrections can be made in order to arrive at a state of equilibrium between the various stakeholders. The adoption of traditional cooperation as a basis for setting up water users associations (WUAs), is presented. The emergence of PIM as a competitor to management contracts adopted in municipal water and wastewater management in Jordan is touched upon and the dynamics of PIM application in the Jordan Valley, including the division of labor between the WUAs and JVA, is described.