In 2004, HasNa awarded a small grant to Fatih Yildiz, a participant of HasNa’s water resource management training program in 2000, to conduct interviews and informational sessions with farmers and water engineers of the Harran Plain in southeastern Turkey regarding their often tense relationship with each other.
Agriculture is the main source of income in southeastern Turkey and therefore, maintaining a positive relationship between farmers and water engineers is important to the development of the region. The study aimed to assess the local farmers’ understanding of the Water Users’ Association (WUA), its functions, and past work as well as to inform the farmers of their rights to water and land usage. The study also sought to assess how well the WUA understood the farmers’ water needs and the internal grievances among the water engineers.
Through questionnaires, interviews, group meetings, and mapping of the irrigation network, Mr. Yildiz revealed several key problems that have hindered relations between the two groups. Problems included (1) insufficient and poorly maintained drainage canals which resulted in a decreased crop yield and damaged roads; (2) water shortages; and (3) conflict between how much water farmers felt they could take and how much control the WUA felt they had over water distribution.
By making both parties conscious of the problems which existed, Mr. Yildiz’s study helped to open the lines of communication between the WUA and the farmers. Both water officials and farmers have started changing their attitudes towards one another and are now more willing to work together to address problems.