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Consortia as a participatory water management system for sustainable development
in the Plain of Sybaris, Italy

By law, the Consortia are private boards of public law and non-profit organization. Associated members have to contribute only to the expenses borne for the management of performed activities. Therefore, it is not a tax that they pay to the Consortium but a contribution. Such contributions are proportioned to the direct benefit each user receives from the activity performed by the Consortium.

The organization of Consortia in Italy aims to equilibrate the rights and duties of governmental institutions and farmers. In fact, on one side, governmental institutions finance public works and maintain their property and, on the other, they assign the management task to the Consortia and allow them to exert a control power through the members by right of the council of delegates and the governing board.

The Governing Board, elected among the associated members, is very efficient, since administrators are users as well and, consequently, they are directly involved in the prompt resolution of any arising problem. The objective of the administrative choices is then to reach high efficiency parameters in order to maximize, in economic and labour terms, the results of irrigation, through the optimization of water distribution both at the farm and at a crop level (through the orientations and suggestions of the extension service).

In conclusion, the Consortia system plays a fundamental role in the optimization of water supply and distribution; in improving cropping and, consequently, agricultural economic development; in establishing a democratic, responsible and efficient management of natural resources. All these factors contribute to the improvement of the general livelihoods of local populations.