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Establishing property rights for land, water and logging concessions provides a fundamental incentive for better resource management. When squatters become owners and forest concessionaires have long-term contracts, there is a built-in incentive to exploit natural resources in a sustainable manner. Tropical deforestation and the decimation of the world's fisheries are stark reminders Page 12 of the sorts of perverse results created by unregulated open access to resources. Privatization and decentralization can play an important role in moving many aspects of environmental management out of the state sector, which is often starved for capital, and into more commercial operations where there is a strong incentive both to generate current revenue and to make investments that will increase revenue in the future.

2 million hectare irrigation network (divided into eighty irrigation districts) had been transferred to 316 water user associations. After the transfer farmers had to face higher charges for irrigation water owing to the loss of government subsidies, but they gained management autonomy and ownership based on a twenty-year concession. The average recovery rate of operation and maintenance costs increased from 57 percent in 1991 to close to 100 percent in areas with water user associations. Improvements have also been seen in water use efficiency, management staff productivity, and environmental benefits.

6 Public participation in irrigation management in Mexico In 1989 the Mexican government adopted a policy of participatory irrigation management. The main purpose of the policy was to transfer the management responsibilities of irrigation districts from the government to water user associations. In 1990 the first irrigation district was transferred to the users. 2 million hectare irrigation network (divided into eighty irrigation districts) had been transferred to 316 water user associations. After the transfer farmers had to face higher charges for irrigation water owing to the loss of government subsidies, but they gained management autonomy and ownership based on a twenty-year concession.

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