Irrigation water management : A performance study of the Rahad scheme in Sudan, 1977-1996

Abstract: The central objectives of this study is to assess the performance of irrigation water management of the Rahad scheme in Sudan between 1977 and 1996. The study assesses how well the scheme has succeeded in achieving irrigation management objectives using the criteria of productivity, equity, cost recovery and environmental stability. The survey findings indicate that scheme performance was below expectations. There were untimely and unreliable water delivery, inequitable water distribution, yields of field crops below expected potential, low level of water charges and recovery rates, and environmental sustainability problems. The study uses different data collection methods including a survey-questionnaire, in-depth group and individual interviews, document reviews and personal observation. Three field works were carried out to collect data in 1990, 1992/93, and 1996. The study attempts to identify the causes for the level of performance thus attained through an investigation in the organization and management of water distribution, system maintenance, irrigation financing and agricultural extension service activities. The analysis of these activities was made both at the main system level and at the farm level. In this regard, the study discovered fundamental problems in the co-ordination between the different activities and in the allocation of duties and responsibilities between the farmers and the officials and within the official organization. Furthermore lack of operational procedures, low motivation, inadequate skills, and lack of finance were contributing factors. The study suggests remedial actions considering the specific conditions of the scheme, experiences of other well-operated schemes, and taking into account the theoretical elements that constitute the parameters of an effective irrigation management system. Suggestions include the creation of a unified scheme management structure, delegation of authority, increasing of staff and farmers' participation, creation of financial autonomy, designing of operational procedures, upgrading of skills and rehabilitation of the physical structure.

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