Of all the confrontations man has engineered with nature, irrigation systems have had the most widespread and far-reaching impact on the natural environment. Over a quarter of a billion hectares of the planet are irrigated and entire countries depend on irrigation for their survival and existence. Considering the importance of irrigation schemes, it is unfortunate that until recently the technology and principles of design applied to their construction has hardly changed in 4,000 years. Modern thinking on irrigation engineering has benefited from a cross-fertilization of ideas from many other fields including social sciences, control theory, political economics and agriculture. However, these influences have been largely ignored by irrigation engineers. Drawing on almost 40 years of experience of irrigation in the developing world, Laycock introduces new ideas on the design of irrigation systems and combines important issues from the disciplines of social conflict, management, and political thinking. Designed to appeal to all those involved in planning, managing and operating irrigation systems, this book will interest engineers, technicians, agriculturalists, economists, students and policy makers.