Improving Irrigation Performance in Africa (IPIA/ APPIA)

IWMI and national partners in Ethiopia and Kenya developed the APPIA/IPIA project ( MTP 8 2006-2008/2007-2009, Output 1, logframes attached) implemented from 2003-2007. It developed a methodology named PRDA for Participatory Rapid Diagnosis and Action Planning for improving performance of farmer-managed irrigation schemes. The methodology was field-tested by irrigation personnel in 18 pilot irrigation schemes in Ethiopia and Kenya. A recent external evaluation of action plans (December 2007) highlighted the significant improvements in performance in Kenyan pilot schemes and to some extent in Ethiopia.

On considering field data, the evaluators arrived at the overall conclusion that “[o]ne of the tremendous achievements of IPIA project was achieving much success with less resources” (p.xii) when compared with other irrigation investments in the region, and attributed this to good collaboration with stakeholders on the ground. It also noted the “considerable benefits for farmers within the schemes compared to those outside”. In particular, the report highlighted the following: Â

  • Downward production trends reversed in most sites. This was based on economic analysis of baseline and post-intervention data that showed  “significant increase in yields in most of the schemes” (Annex 1, p.x) including a three-fold increase in one site.
  • Improved water application enabling crops diversification with higher market profitability.
  • Significant technical and institutional capacity building through new irrigation water user associations (IWUAs) or strengthening existing ones via skills development programmes ranging from problem identification methods to application of suitable small-scale solutions. The net result: “improved performance of IWUAs in equitably and efficiently distributing irrigation water to their clients” (Annex 1,p.xi).
  • Major attitudinal changes in farmers which contributed to more effective IWUAs and efficient knowledge uptake.

APPIA’s flagship scheme is the Mwea scheme in Kenya. Application of PRDA helped design an irrigation management transfer (IMT) action plan, and raised rice productivity (from <3 t/ha (2003) to >5 t/ha (2006/7) and fee recovery to 80% (figures available with Kenya National Irrigation Board). Mwea is consequently cited in Kenya as a successful case of IMT, a complete reversal from previous expectations.

Moreover, field level results have convinced the Kenyan government to use the APPIA approach in other centrally managed schemes to improve performance, and to incorporate APPIA’s approach in the new (and first) national irrigation policy prepared by the Ministry of Water & Irrigation in 2007. The most significant result was the creation of KIDA (Kenya Irrigation & Drainage Association), a continuation and upscaling of professional networks created during the course of APPIA/IPIA in Kenya (Annex 2, p.23). Also noteworthy is that APPIA/IPIA PMU members were actively involved in preparing the irrigation policy.

n addition, a manual on PRDA methodology published by IWMI & FAO in 2006 is now widely used in Kenya, Amhara regional state in Ethiopia, West Africa (after translation into French), non-APPIA targeted countries including Rwanda and Malawi), and has been translated into Persian and 6,000 copies printed for use at the initiative and cost of the National Committee of Irrigation and Drainage of Iran.