Participatory multi-criteria analysis of irrigation management alternatives: The case of Caia irrigation area, Portugal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


This paper presents the development of a participatorymulti-criteria analysis (MCA) process for the evaluation of irrigation management alternatives in the Caia irrigation district, Portugal. The focus is on the design, evaluation and comparison of irrigation management alternatives in a participatory setting, encouraging direct involvement of actors throughout the whole process. A framework for participatory MCA was developed that integrates preparatory interviews (actors selection, understanding the decision context), workshops (alternatives and criteria identification, results discussion) and a second round of interviews (criteria weighting and alternatives evaluation). This framework combines elements from the analytical hierarchy process with social multi-criteria evaluation. The use of different participatory techniques is essential for enabling continuous participation and ensuring that different points of view are taken into account in the evaluation process. The results obtained allowed the identification and comparison of the most preferred alternatives and the analysis of the positions of the different actor groups. Social learning was an important outcome: participants acknowledged that they have gained an improved understanding of the problem and of each other’s viewpoints. The direct engagement of actors in MCA presents two challenges: actors’ challenge, related to the participation in the process itself, and analytical challenge, mostly related to the interpretation of the results.
Original languageUnknown
Pages (from-to)334-349
JournalInternational Journal Of Agricultural Sustainability
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2011

Cite this