Jump to Main Content
Lessons from success and/or failure of irrigation development
- Hargreaves, George H.
- Irrigation and drainage 2003 v.52 no.1 pp. 31-38
- case studies, climate, cooperatives, dams (hydrology), decline, deterioration, developing countries, education programs, environment, floods, food production, food shortages, foods, groundwater, international finance, irrigated farming, irrigation systems, issues and policy, land reform, loans, market economy, participation, planning, private enterprises, reforestation, risk assessment, shifting cultivation, soil erosion, water supply, Greece, Haiti, Honduras, Japan
- World population is increasing, particularly in the developing countries. Groundwater reserves are being depleted; lands are being degraded. The required increase in food production must come principally from new supplies of water for irrigated lands. If irrigated lands fail to produce the required food, increased destruction of resources and degradation of the environment from increasing slash and burn agriculture is anticipated. Various countries and international agencies have recognized the possibility of future food shortage. This paper presents case studies and includes technical and scientific considerations. In Greece, important considerations were land consolidation, and the incentives provided encouraged private initiative. The construction of large dams facilitated reforestation. In Haiti, flooding and erosion resulting from slash and burn agriculture, and land fragmentation were serious problems. Land redistribution and failure of maintenance resulted in the rapid deterioration and failure of the once prosperous colonial irrigation systems. Agrarian reform and/or the establishment of cooperatives with government landownership produced a rapid decline in irrigated production in various countries. In Honduras, little use has been made of 20 cooperatives financed by the government of Japan and the FAO. Various countries and international agencies have financed resource inventories and project studies and have provided funds for development. However, World Bank experience indicates that favorable laws and policies frequently have more influence on development than the availability of financial assistance. Strength in the rule of law, a free market economy, local and user participation in planning and management, and encouragement of private enterprise are frequently more important than the amount of money available from loans. Some successful training courses are described. A World Water and Climate Atlas is now available and can be used for many planning and risk evaluation purposes.