14. Evaluation of the on-farm water management project in the Dominican republic.
Publ. of Development Strategies for Fragile Lands, 7250 Woodmont Avenue,
Suite 200, Bethesda, Maryland 20814, USA; 1990, 67 p. + appendix
This report documents a fundamental change in the institutional arrangements for irrigation management in two large irrigation systems in the Dominican Republic.
The On-Farm Water Management Project (OFWMP), sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development, was implemented with the Instituto Nacional de Recursos Hidraulicos (INDRHI) of the Dominican Republic. The project sought to strengthen INDRHI capacity to plan for and to manage irrigation systems, to increase irrigated agricultural productivity, and to improve lands affected by waterlogging. The two project areas, Azua (YSURA) and Santiago (PRYN Contract I), total 14,400 hectares, and serve 6,000 farm families.
To accomplish project objectives, the OFWMP made physical improvements to the two irrigation systems, assisted in formation of local organizations to manage the irrigation systems, and facilitated turnover
- the transfer of responsibility for system operations and maintenance (O&M) from a public sector agency to private sector associations known locally as Juntas de Regantes. These three steps are linked. Major rehabilitation of facilities coupled with organization of farmers enabled turnover to succeed.
Recommendations have been made by the evaluation team:
The evaluators recommend that, in their initial years of operation, the Juntas Directivas concentrate their human and financial resources on a core set of functions.
These functions should be defined and carried out with the full, democratic participation of farmers.
The Juntas Directivas have shown interest in activities beyond core functions. Examples include marketing, credit, and agricultural extension. These activities are compelling and reflect legitimate and urgent farmer concerns. However, at least in the early and financially uncertain years, the evaluators recommend that the juntas generally restrict such activities because it will spread too thinly the limited financial resources and managerial capacity of the juntas.
Perhaps the greatest accomplishment of the project has been to deliver water reliably to a large number of tail-end farmers in the two systems.
But the project has not established ways to monitor actual water flows to the various parts of the systems and to compare these with allocated amounts. The project should obtain measurements of water delivery equity.
The expenditure of remaining OFWMP funds for pilot area development would be detrimental to organizational efforts and should be a low-priority item. Money spent in pilot areas could be used to rehabilitate portions of the systems that are in disrepair or not completed. This could attract additional farmers into joining the juntas and paying fees. Further work on construction in pilot areas should be halted. Decisions regarding future construction work in pilot and other areas should be made with participation of the juntas.
In future assistance to the Dominican irrigation sector, USAID should take a proactive stance concerning the sustainable use of natural resources. The evaluators recommend that USAID allocate funds for the study of project side-effects, such as increased pesticide use, and use the results of these studies and other accumulated knowledge to program requisite abatement technologies into future assistance to the Dominican irrigation sector. Sustainable environment and natural resource management is not contradictory to the goal of rural income generation or to resource use. Sustainable, resource-conserving, and income-enhancing technologies for soil and water use exist and, under
Agency policy, should be used.
As experience in the Dominican Republic shows, irrigated agriculture may be associated with potential negative environmental impacts. Misuse of irrigation water can result in significant declines in the productivity of land and water resources through soil erosion, waterlogging, and salinization. Agricultural inputs may be indiscriminately applied, and can lead to build-up of resistant pest populations and toxic chemical residues and to runoff.
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