Performance assessment of small irrigation schemes along the Mauritanian banks of the Senegal River
Irrigation plays a fundamental role in world food provision but, to date, it has performed below expectations in Sub-Saharan Africa. The present study assesses and diagnoses the performance of 22 small and medium size community-managed irrigation schemes, mainly devoted to rice production, in different locations along the Mauritanian banks of the Lower Senegal River. The evaluations followed the Rapid Appraisal Process in which semi-structured interviews were held with representatives of the Cooperatives' Boards in charge of each scheme to obtain information about the organisation of the cooperative, land tenure, irrigation system and organization, cropping pattern and soils. Additionally, for each irrigation scheme, the water-delivery service was characterized by making qualitative and comparative observations during field inspections; the pumping station's performance was diagnosed by a local specialist; the discharge at the head of the system was measured; daily irrigation time was recorded; and crop yields were determined by plot sampling. Then a set of performance indicators was computed. Water delivery capacity referred to irrigated areas was insufficient in a third of the schemes, and this insufficiency was exacerbated by poor maintenance. Irrigation intensity in habilitated areas was rather low being less than 0.66 in 50% of the schemes. The average productivity of land, irrigation water, and fuel (3.38Â tÂ ha-1, 0.30Â kgÂ m-3 and 2.37Â kgÂ kWh-1, respectively) were well below potential.
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