Small-Scale Irrigation Schemes Rehabilitation Project (2003)

Project Interim Evaluation

Executive summary1

The Small-Scale Irrigation Schemes Rehabilitation Project, financed by IFAD, the Fund for International Development of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and the French Agency for Development (AFD), was formulated in 1989 and launched in 1996. IFAD, providing a loan of USD 10.57 million, is Haiti's main partner in the project. The combined contributions of the two cofinanciers, which suspended their disbursements in the first half of 2001, total about USD 1.6 million. The project was scheduled to close on 30 September 2002, but a request for an extension to September 2003 has been submitted.

The project has included activities to rehabilitate small-scale irrigation schemes (petits périmètres irrigués (PPIs), organize water users and support the development of more than 3,000 hectares distributed among 26 PPIs in four districts of Haiti. These PPIs encompass between 30 and 500 hectares each. The principal crops grown are corn (maize), bananas, and beans. The logical framework for the project, developed in 1997, lists the following specific objectives:

  • rehabilitate small-scale irrigation schemes and turn over their management to beneficiaries
  • develop the self-management capacity of beneficiaries and their organizations
  • facilitate stable access to inputs and credit
  • increase the technical expertise of beneficiaries and the professionalism of the support organizations (PPI unit, departmental directorates of agriculture, local agricultural offices, NGOs)
  • boost the value of agricultural production

The activities are grouped into four major components:

  • The rehabilitation component includes preparation, supervision and execution of civil engineering studies and works.
  • The self-management component comprises the activities aimed at transferring responsibility for management to users: sensitization, establishment of management structures, training of members and strengthening of organizations.
  • The agricultural development component seeks to put in place structures to facilitate access to inputs and financial services, disseminate new production techniques and create structures for marketing products.
  • The project is coordinated by the PPI unit, which comes under the General Directorate of the Ministry of Agriculture. Functions include: planning, supervising execution, financial control and monitoring and evaluation.

As regards execution modalities, the engineering works and activities related to dissemination and to structuring user organizations were entrusted to local firms or NGOs, which were designated ‘Specialized Partner Operators'. The officials of the Ministry's local agricultural offices, overseen by the departmental directorates, collaborated in the various activities.

The physical outcomes of the project were limited by the suspension of OPEC and AFD financing in 2001. Nonetheless, significant results were achieved. When the evaluation was conducted four months prior to the original closing date, 13 PPIs, covering a total area of about 1 100 hectares, had been rehabilitated. Urgently needed repairs or maintenance work had been carried out on the Saint-Marc irrigation schemes, the rehabilitation of which was to be financed with the AFD grant.

A total of 168 user groups—the foundation of the water users associations that took responsibility for managing PPIs—had been formed in the 26 PPIs targeted by the project. Twenty-four PPIs had water users associations. More than 2,000 farmers out of a total of about 5,000 had attended training seminars on PPI management and improvement and diversification of agricultural production. In addition, visits between users from different districts and to irrigated areas in the neighbouring Dominican Republic had been organized.

The project has facilitated access to various types of inputs and equipment by procuring them and then reselling them at cost price, including better seeds, fertilizers, phyto-sanitary products, harnesses for draught animals, mechanized ploughing services and pesticide spraying equipment. Two input stores managed by local groups have been created. Several in-kind credit activities have been undertaken, but the project has not given rise, as anticipated, to the establishment of local microfinance structures or the creation of organizations for product storage and marketing. The activities aimed specifically at women are still incipient.

At this early stage, based on the dynamics observed, the project's impact can be considered substantial in terms of the physical and financial assets of households, food and economic security and human assets. Impact is weaker in terms of strengthening social capital, attaining empowerment (as inadequate attention was paid to gender issues) and addressing environmental issues. Its impact on the regulatory framework, on the other hand, is judged to be substantial.

Most water users associations show potential for managing the PPIs. However, several problems were noted with regard to the crucial matter of the users organizations:

  • Beneficiary support within the institutional structure is weak in some areas. The necessary linkages between the various entities have not been put in place and the mechanisms for consultation, information dissemination, decision-making and dispute resolution are inadequate. The relative complexity of the structures involved requires mechanisms that will ensure better participation.
  • The legal documents of the associations (articles of incorporation, bylaws, rules of procedure) have some deficiencies and are not always consistent.
  • The structures in place are not always sufficiently and correctly understood by the beneficiaries.

With regard to gender equity, a general lack of awareness of the issues involved was noted, especially a lack of information and understanding concerning the reasons and justification for promoting the advancement of women. Moreover, interventions aimed at women have a very weak potential for increased funding.

Numerous factors in the institutional and macroeconomic framework make it difficult to extract maximum value from investments:

  • periodic shortages of some inputs on the national market (fertilizer, phyto-sanitary products)
  • the supply of quality seeds is still largely dependent on state subsidies or external aid
  • an agricultural research sector which is too centralized, has weak structures, is underfunded and offers little in the way of technical proposals suited to the realities of production
  • an underdeveloped network of decentralized financial services, especially for financing production.

The specific weaknesses of the project are:

  • assessment and dissemination activities concerning farm water management
  • insufficient attention to economic considerations (costs, availability of labour, market conditions) and to the diversity of situations in the development of the technical proposals put forward by the project
  • inadequate efforts given to developing local networks of artisan seed producers.
  • In light of the principal findings with regard to participation and training and in accordance with the recommendations of previous missions, it would be advisable to maintain support for user organizations for an additional period of at least two years. Several priority activities are suggested in the short term. First, a detailed work programme should be established with the specialized partner- operators and the representatives of the users in preparation for the project's withdrawal. The following actions should then be considered:
  • establish management structures; clarify mandates and modes of operation through explicit delineation of managerial functions and responsibilities
  • prepare a scheme for the work of the management committees
  • finalize and/or adopt the legal documents of the associations (articles of incorporation, bylaws, rules of procedure) and complete procedures for official recognition of the associations
  • adjust charges to a level in keeping with needs
  • provide specific support for the management committees, in the form of direct assistance, during working sessions, in carrying out their activities
  • provide regional support for the committees in establishing/strengthening relations with other actors, in particular the decentralized agencies of the Ministry of Agriculture
  • the Ministry should assign officials currently receiving specialized training abroad in social management of water to the regions targeted by the project
  • identify possible linkages with the project to support social management of water within the Ministry's Division for Development of Agricultural Entrepreneurs
  • produce a document describing the experience and the principal lessons learned so that they can be applied in other interventions as appropriate.

With regard to actions that target women specifically, it is necessary to undertake a serious study, utilizing suitable instruments of economic analysis, to identify promising opportunities for women farmers in processing agricultural goods. This effort should lead to the formulation of projects and the women concerned should be encouraged to get in touch with institutions that can provide them with financial and technical (production, management) support.

Development support activities should focus in the short-term on plot irrigation techniques. Good farm water management should make fertilizers more effective - an essential complement to the broader efforts to organize water management at the PPI level.

In the medium term, research and development should prioritise the control of diseases affecting banana trees, production of artisanal corn (maize) seeds and development of appropriate techniques for herbicide use. The control of black Sigatoka and Erwinia is a condition for deriving value from investments in Port-de-Paix and Petit Goave, where bananas are a key crop. Support for small local networks of corn (maize) seed producers could take the form of grants to finance storage equipment coupled with existing local credit structures which are better suited to finance seed storage rather than productive activities. Farmers are also seeking solutions to alleviate the shortage of and rising cost of labour. Trials and training in the use of herbicides could be organized with private-sector marketers of inputs. Activities aimed at setting up strong production finance structures and measures to control gullies posing a threat to PPIs can only be planned in the long term.

1/ The Interim Evaluation Mission was composed of: Mr Alex Bellande, Mission Leader and responsible for the agricultural development and coordination components; Ms Danielle Magloire responsible for the gender aspects and the self-management of irrigation schemes; Mr Frino Saint-Jean responsible for the rehabilitation component and Mr Andreas Gerrits, Associate Evaluation Officer/IFAD, responsible for the monitoring and evaluation systems. Mr Gilles Damais, of IRAM, participated in the mission organization and revised the evaluation documents. Mr Paolo Silveri, Evaluation Officer/IFAD, joined the mission to participate in the evaluation workshop.