Local empowerment in smallholder irrigation schemes : a methodology for participatory diagnosis and prospective analysis

Perret Sylvain. 2004. Local empowerment in smallholder irrigation schemes : a methodology for participatory diagnosis and prospective analysis. In : Water resource management for local development : governance, institutions and policies. Hassan Rashid (ed.), Backeberg Gerhard (ed.), Farolfi Stefano (ed.), Karar Eiman (ed.), Perret Sylvain (ed.), Pietersen Kevin (ed.), Turton Anthony (ed.). Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, WRC, France-Ambassade, CIRAD. Irene : DTT, pp. 518-533. International Workshop on Water Resource Management for Local Development, Loskop Dam, Afrique du Sud, 8 November 2004/11 November 2004.

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Abstract : In the former bantustans of South Africa, most smallholder irrigation schemes, although moribund, are earmarked for rehabilitation and management transfer. Although such processes are backed-up with important means, it remains difficult to evaluate the schemes' prospects and potential in terms of financial viability and overall sustainability. Besides, beneficiaries are hardly prepared to take over management at both farm and scheme level, as they lack technical and managerial skills, capital and markets, in a context of unclear property rights over resources, dependency and individualism. The paper briefly describes such situation, and then presents a multi-disciplinary, action-research approach that has been developed to address such issues. It first describes the approach, which makes use of a tool, Smile, as a database, as a model and as a simulation platform. The paper then describes a participatory and heuristic application of the approach, using examples from a recent case study. The process first involves a quantitative, technical, and economic diagnosis of the scheme. Crop and farmer typologies are established, validated by the management committee members, and then captured into the Smile platform. Workshops are then organized in order to collect questions, ideas and scenarios worth-testing. In a recent case study, the following areas have been addressed: bulk water supply, farming systems, land re-allocation, water charging system. The results of several simulations and action-research projects show that crop diversification and intensification are the current best options towards cost recovery and the viability of SIS, in a context of limited resources. Clarification on land rights, and some form of land reallocation towards willing farmers should also help. Results also demonstrate that both diagnosis and simulations prompt collective learning and participation by farmers. First, the diagnosis allows them to collectively talk, reflect and agree on the current situation and issues. Second, the prospective and heuristic analysis through scenario-testing helps to define longer term strategies for the scheme, and to identify development pathways that are documented and discussed. Such an approach shows huge potential for the information of transfer operators, and for farmers' training, participation and empowerment. (Résumé d'auteur)

Mots-clés Agrovoc : Périmètre irrigué, Gestion des ressources, Association d'agriculteurs, Évaluation de projet, méthode, Simulation

Mots-clés géographiques Agrovoc : Afrique du Sud

Classification Agris : E16 - Production economics

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