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Accepted Paper:

Synthesising Lessons about the Drivers and Solutions to Irrigation Scheme (Under)Performance in West Africa  

Authors:

Sarah Redicker (University of Manchester)
Timothy Foster (University of Manchester)
Ralitza Dimova (University of Manchester)

Paper short abstract:

In this study, we find that irrigation schemes underperform in terms of achieved benefits and maintenance over time. We argue that the observed problems are rooted in unclear project objectives and a lack of accountability due to an absence of systematic assessments and monitoring approaches.

Paper long abstract:

Anecdotal evidence and detailed site-specific assessments suggest that irrigation infrastructure projects and reforms in West Africa (WA) have failed to achieve proposed targets on a large scale. We evaluate this proposition by conducting a meta-analysis, based on 46 irrigation scheme assessments evaluating performances of 124 irrigation schemes across ten countries in WA. After accounting for differences in methodological approaches, performance indicators and cited reasons for underperformance, we address the question of what we know about irrigation scheme performance and how this knowledge is transferred into scheme design and management of new projects. We find that irrigation schemes underperform in terms of both achieved benefits and maintenance over time. We argue that many of the observed problems are rooted in unclear project objectives and a lack of accountability due to an absence of systematic assessments and monitoring approaches. As irrigation scheme development will continue to be an important part of development agendas in WA and around the world, it is pertinent that we embed lessons from the past to avoid unsuccessful investments in the future.

Panel P12
The World Commission on Dams +20 years - revisiting dams, decision-making and development