Irrigation performance before and after rehabilitation of a representative, small irrigation scheme besides the Senegal River, Mauritania
During the last quarter of the 20th century, many irrigation schemes were constructed along the bank of the Senegal River in Mauritania. About 40,000ha were developed but less than 23,000ha remain irrigated today. A program for rehabilitation is now in place to counteract deterioration and abandonment of these schemes. This paper presents an evaluation of the rehabilitation of a small, representative irrigation scheme governed by a farmers' cooperative in the village of Bélinabé. Before rehabilitation, the scheme covered 37.7ha comprising 107 plots each of 0.33ha, essentially all devoted to production of rice. Water for irrigation was pumped directly from the river into two head basins and distributed through open canals. After rehabilitation, the scheme was extended to 115ha with new plots averaging 0.36ha. Water is now supplied by a single cluster of pumps and conveyed through pipes and open canals. Evaluation of performance consisted in analysis of: capacity; distribution losses; flexibility, adequacy and reliability of the system; maintenance status; farmer's perception of system performance. Field data were collected during irrigation campaigns before rehabilitation in 2004 and during 2006 and 2007 afterwards. A model of network distribution and field water balance was developed to assist evaluation. It was established that before rehabilitation the scheme could operate satisfactorily if proper maintenance were practiced. After rehabilitation, more families have access to irrigation but reliability and flexibility of water distribution have been reduced. Furthermore, pumping capacity is now insufficient to cover crop water requirements. Recommendations are provided for future rehabilitation work and maintenance of schemes generally.
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