Journal cover Journal topic
Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 20, 1911-1924, 2016
http://www.hydrol-earth-syst-sci.net/20/1911/2016/
doi:10.5194/hess-20-1911-2016
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
12 May 2016
The use of semi-structured interviews for the characterisation of farmer irrigation practices
Jimmy O'Keeffe1, Wouter Buytaert1, Ana Mijic1, Nicholas Brozović2, and Rajiv Sinha3 1Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Imperial College London, London, UK
2Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska, USA
3Department of Earth Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, India
Abstract. For the development of sustainable and realistic water security, generating information on the behaviours, characteristics, and drivers of users, as well as on the resource itself, is essential. In this paper we present a methodology for collecting qualitative and quantitative data on water use practices through semi-structured interviews. This approach facilitates the collection of detailed information on actors' decisions in a convenient and cost-effective manner. Semi-structured interviews are organised around a topic guide, which helps lead the conversation in a standardised way while allowing sufficient opportunity for relevant issues to emerge. In addition, they can be used to obtain certain types of quantitative data. While not as accurate as direct measurements, they can provide useful information on local practices and users' insights. We present an application of the methodology on farmer water use in two districts in the state of Uttar Pradesh in northern India. By means of 100 farmer interviews, information was collected on various aspects of irrigation practices, including irrigation water volumes, irrigation cost, water source, and their spatial variability. Statistical analyses of the information, along with data visualisation, are also presented, indicating a significant variation in irrigation practices both within and between districts. Our application shows that semi-structured interviews are an effective and efficient method of collecting both qualitative and quantitative information for the assessment of drivers, behaviours, and their outcomes in a data-scarce region. The collection of this type of data could significantly improve insights on water resources, leading to more realistic management options and increased water security in the future.

Citation: O'Keeffe, J., Buytaert, W., Mijic, A., Brozović, N., and Sinha, R.: The use of semi-structured interviews for the characterisation of farmer irrigation practices, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 20, 1911-1924, doi:10.5194/hess-20-1911-2016, 2016.
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Short summary
Semi-structured interviews provide an effective and efficient way of collecting qualitative and quantitative data on water use practices. Interviews are organised around a topic guide, which helps lead the conversation while allowing sufficient opportunity to identify issues previously unknown to the researcher. The use of semi-structured interviews could significantly and quickly improve insight on water resources, leading to more realistic future management options and increased water security.
Semi-structured interviews provide an effective and efficient way of collecting qualitative and...
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