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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 20, issue 5 | Copyright
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 20, 1911-1924, 2016
https://doi.org/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

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 Jimmy O'Keeffe et al.
  • 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.

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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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