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LESSONS:

Farmer Managed Irrigation Systems Project

sector: Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Rural Development | country: Indonesia

As a matter of principle, farmers should be required to contribute to construction costs and that this requirement should be clearly stated at the outset and applied as a precondition for the selection of subprojects. During implementation, the requirement for farmers to agree to a 20% contribution for the cost of the irrigation improvements was relaxed, and the farmers’ contributions were less. Consequently, the project paid for a greater share of the costs than originally planned. However, the farmers provided in-kind and voluntary labor support, which increased their ownership of the project. The value of the farmers’ contribution cannot be estimated accurately because clear records were not kept, but, in many cases, the contribution was significant, and most farmers’ groups were willing to contribute in some way.

Coordination between interagency working groups at the district and provincial levels, with DWRS and PIPO, on the one hand, and DAS and agricultural extension agencies, on the other, would have been more efficient if the latter had been allocated funds directly from the Borrower (MOF) and received the funds provided by the executing agency (DGWR) in 2002.

Farmers are constrained by a lack of capital from investing in agriculture activities and technical improvements. Provision of credit not subsidized as part of the project might have assisted farmers in fully realizing the irrigation potential of rehabilitated and improved farmer managed irrigation systems (FMISs).

Generally, the quality of construction work undertaken by the farmers is better than works that are built by contractors. This is so because the farmers have a better appreciation of the value of properly constructed works, and participation in design and construction gives farmers a sense of pride and ownership. However, in some cases, particularly in more remote locations, the supervision of the works by district staff members was lacking, and some construction problems occurred. Assigning more district staff members to supervise schemes in such remote locations would be beneficial.

The Benefit Monitoring and Evaluation (BME) surveys showed that the involvement of women farmers in the project was limited to agricultural activities and that their involvement in water users associations (WUAs) organization and the management of irrigation was minimal. Special attention and assistance to support the role of women in the administration and management of WUAs is required to increase their involvement. Similar types of projects, those that are small-scale and directly benefit farmers and poor rural communities, are frequently presented by district governments to development partners, including ADB, with requests for assistance. The participatory process developed by the project is very relevant and could be replicated and expanded to other areas.

The comprehensive Benefit Monitoring and Evaluation (BME) surveys undertaken under the project gathered data on irrigation structures, water supply, and maintenance activities, as well as physical conditions and cropping intensity; irrigated area; agricultural production; and other benefits, such as the increase in agricultural employment. Although the goal was to reduce rural poverty, the surveys did not capture relevant data such as income distribution among the beneficiaries before and after the project. This deficiency makes accessing the poverty impact in quantitative terms difficult.

The project design envisaged that the District Agricultural Services (DAS) would be closely involved in providing support to farmers through extension services and establishing demonstration plots. However, levels of involvement of the field agricultural extension workers and support from DAS were low, particularly after decentralization in 2001. DAS and agricultural extension agencies were funded and controlled by district administration, and sufficient funds were not made available for the agricultural extension services needed to provide the planned level of support. The project would have benefited from specific and adequate funding for agricultural extension services.

Water users associations (WUAs) need ongoing support beyond the project to facilitate their development into viable and responsible organizations that are committed to organizing and collecting sufficient water users fees for routine O&M, to ensure sustainability. Further assistance for strengthening WUA capacity and management is necessary. Badan Perencanaan Pembangunan Daerahor BAPPEDA II (Regional Development Planning Agency) should provide assistance for such strengthening, including ongoing monitoring and support. These arrangements can likely be implemented under the decentralization policy, which allows district governments to play a key role in providing a conducive environment and support and services to newly empowered WUAs.

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