Success factors of irrigation projects based on a "public-private partnership" model in a mountainous area: A case study in the nujiang River Valley, China

Yanbo Li, Jinming Hu, Weijiao Di, Liyun Zhang, Daniel Oscar Suman, Hong Zhu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Irrigation systems are critical for food security and drought adaptation in mountainous areas. However, lack of funding and low efficacy of government-funded irrigation projects hinders irrigation infrastructure development. A public-private partnership (PPP) model is recommended for irrigation development, but its application in mountainous areas has not been well-documented and analyzed. Based on a case study of pumping station projects in the Lujiang Flatland in the Nujiang River Valley of Southwestern China, this paper aims to reveal the critical success factors of the PPP model in the development of agricultural irrigation infrastructure in mountainous areas. Results showed that the basic models of PPP projects in the study area can be described as follows: (1) private companies invested in and constructed pumping stations; (2) communities operated the stations; (3) farmers paid for the services; and (4) private companies profited from charging water fees, obtaining policy supports, or utilizing farmlands. The main success factors include: (1) rational project design according to local conditions; (2) multi-centered management mechanisms; (3) balanced cost- and risk-sharing mechanisms; and (4) building mutual trusts among stakeholders. This study offers applicable lessons and useful insights for irrigation water development projects and adaptation to drought in mountainous rural communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6799
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019



  • Co-management
  • Irrigation infrastructure
  • Mountain community
  • Public service
  • Public-private partnership

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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