yesThe context for irrigation modernization in Syria reflects global drivers for change in irrigated agriculture. Two drivers are identified as being of particular importance, increasing stress on water resources, and the trend towards irrigation management transfer to the farmer level. Within these broad categories a number of specific challenges are likely to be of importance in the modernization process in Syria. \ud \ud Capacity-building to meet these challenges is required at three levels, policy, institutions and the individual. This paper focuses on institutional development, as being the most difficult level at which to undertake effective capacity-building. It discusses the institutional framework for irrigation management and goes on to describe current approaches, based round the concept of design principles. Constraints and limitations of the design principles approach are discussed.\ud \ud The paper concludes by proposing an agenda for preliminary action on capacity-building for irrigation modernization. This agenda comprises an institutional mapping exercise, an assessment of the roles and responsibilities of water sector entities, and the development of a strategy for supporting farmer-level institutions. Integration with other capacity-building initiatives (policy reform, human resource development) is necessary if it is to make an effective contribution to the overall modernization programme
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