Article Series: Subsidies

Irrigation Resources

The GSI has developed a methodology for measuring irrigation subsidies as a resource for governments and researchers. 

The GSI's Method for Quantifying Irrigation Subsidies

The GSI's method for quantifying irrigation subsidies draws on the main components of the Net Cost to the Supplier approach. This focuses on measuring identifiable government expenditures as reported in budget reports and official documentation, avoiding the location-specific and time-dependent problems that arise in attempts to factor in fluctuating prices of water and the wide range of externalities, both positive and negative, that can be linked to irrigation subsidies.
The method was developed through a detailed overview and comparison of a number of methods available to researchers in the paper Towards a Common Methodology for Measuring Irrigation SubsidiesThe GSI's chose its method through discussion of this study at a workshop held jointly with the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) on the 26–27 March 2008, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This included national experts from the International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage (ICID); the International Water Management Institute (IWMI); the Malawi Polytechnic; New Mexico State University, U.S.A.; Middle East Technical University, Turkey; and the World Bank.

The GSI has subsequently used the method to establish subsidy estimates in Spain and India. These countries were selected for their suitability to test out the method and the importance of irrigation subsidies in their agricultural sectors.

Subsidy Estimation: A Survey of Current Practice

This technical manual draws together the different subsidy estimation methods that are used and have been published, mainly by intergovernmental organizations and governments. While the manual quotes multiple sources for most methods, often the approaches do not differ fundamentally, and users may simply want to refer to the one that makes most sense to them. In cases where they do differ markedly, users should choose whichever method best serves their purposes and can be implemented with the available data.

For a user-friendly introduction to the manual, explaining which methods should be used to estimate which kinds of subsidies, please see our related Policy Brief, A How-to Guide: Measuring subsidies to fossil-fuel producers.

Archive of Non-GSI Irrigation Studies

The GSI regularly reviews studies by other organisations in its Subsidy Watch blog. Click here to browse the archive of non-GSI studies.