The conditions that contribute to institutional robustness of community-based natural resource management (CBNRM) regimes are well understood; however, there is much less systematic evidence regarding whether and how CBNRM regimes adapt to changing environments. We address this question by exploring drought adaptation of 37 irrigation associations in northern Spain. For this purpose, we adopt the distinction between “generic” and “specific adaptation institutions” and explore whether and how these institutions combine across different types of irrigation systems. We obtained data from a survey delivered to the 37 associations, governmental records, and interviews with representatives of the associations and public officials. We then used hierarchical cluster analysis to classify the irrigation systems into types, followed by qualitative comparative analysis to explore associations between the adaptation institutions and drought adaptation across the types of systems. According our results, CBNRM regimes adapt to droughts through different combinations of institutions (i.e., different paths to drought adaptation). However, specific adaptation institutions such as water transfers are more relevant during droughts (i.e., to allocate scarcity), whereas generic adaptation institutions such as monitoring and collective choice arrangements play a role both during and in the aftermath of droughts (i.e., to build compliance with and redesign specific adaptation institutions). Also, we did not find an alignment between the two types of institutions and types of irrigation system; however, one type of system (i.e., the “Asian” type) shows a larger number of drought adaptation paths than the other (i.e., the “American” type).
- Archetype analysis
- Common-pool resources
- Hierarchical cluster analysis
- Qualitative comparative analysis
- Water user associations