Article written by 2009 DPDF Revitalizing Development Studies fellow Jacob Ricks, featured in World Development, Volume 77:
States are increasingly striving to create participatory local organizations for joint management of common pool resources. What local conditions determine success of such state efforts? What effect do these efforts have? Drawing on controlled comparisons between three districts in Indonesia and an original survey of 92 water user groups, I demonstrate that local political contexts condition the effectiveness of participatory irrigation policies. When irrigation is politically salient, local politicians pressure bureaucrats to better engage with farmers. The data also show that training programs are not as effective at increasing water user organization activity as frequent contact between bureaucrats and farmers.