Submitted to: Journal of Irrigation and Drainage Systems
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/23/1999
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Changes in the management of systems, including agricultural systems, are often undertaken without first obtaining a holistic understanding of those systems and their current level of performance. Projects undertaken without this understanding usually fail or are not sustainable because critical aspects of problems are not considered, e.g., social and cultural constraints or lack of support expertise, which undermine successful management and use of new technologies. Among potential problems, is the risk that actions undertaken without this kind of understanding will address symptoms rather than causes. In the Maricopa-Stanfield Irrigation and Drainage District area in central Arizona, USA, a methodology called "Diagnostic Analysis (DA)," the first phase of a three-phased management change process called the "Management Improvement Program (MIP)," was applied. The interdisciplinary DA study was published in a report that described the entire system, on- and off-farm and the interface; its level of performance, both high and low; and the impact and primary causes of that performance. After the stakeholders (farmers, the irrigation district, federal, state, and local support and regulatory agencies) developed a common understanding of the report, it became possible for them to identify, plan, and implement needed changes. The DA methodology would be a useful, even essential, first step in most managed change processes or long-term plans, particularly those involving organizational development, at various levels of government and in private organizations.
Technical Abstract: Diagnostic Analysis (DA) is a methodology for assessing and understanding the performance of an agricultural system in a region. This analysis is the first step in a large system change process, known as the Management Improvement Program (MIP), whose objective is to improve the performance of agricultural in a region. A group of Federal and state of Arizona agencies sagreed to apply the MIP methodology in a western U.S. setting, focusing on an irrigated agricultural area. The purpose of the application was to test the applicability of the MIP approach under U.S. conditions and to refine the methodology. This paper describes how the DA methodology was applied in the Maricopa-Stanfield Irrigation and Drainage District (MSIDD) area in central Arizona, USA, and summarizes the lessons derived from that experience. Specific findings of the DA study and the response of MSIDD area agriculture to those findings are discussed in separate articles.