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Multiple Use Systems

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Submitted By Louwah
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Multiple Use Systems
Louise Whiting, FAO

Historically people, communities, and water managers have been using man-made delivery systems or natural water systems deliberately for more than a single use. In many rural and urban areas, domestic water networks are used for small-scale productive activities. Similarly, irrigation systems are often de facto providing large amounts of water within their command areas that facilitate access to water for many other uses through recharge of surface streams and groundwater. Lastly aquatic systems (wetlands including rice-based systems) provide many critical productive and ecosystem services to nearby populations (World Water Council, 2009).

A recent analysis of large irrigation systems has shown that the vast majority (more than 90%) of irrigation schemes are being used for a range of uses that go well beyond the production of crops for which they were designed (Renault, 2008). Fortunately, a multiple-use services (MUS) concept continues to emerge as an increasingly effective alternative approach to providing water services for the full range of uses, aiming to meet people’s multiple water needs in an integrated manner. MUS can be understood as a participatory, integrated and poverty-reduction focused approach in poor rural and peri-urban areas, which takes people’s multiple water needs as a starting point for providing integrated services, moving beyond the conventional sectoral barriers of the domestic and productive sectors (Smits et al, 2008).

Objectives of MUS
The main objective of the MUS approach is to try and meet the full range of people’s water needs. These include domestic uses (drinking, cooking, washing, cleaning, sanitation and hygiene), irrigation, livestock and small enterprise. In addition there may be other non-consumptive uses, which are also referred to as functions and roles,…...

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