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LESSONS:

Lao People’s Democratic Republic: Decentralized Irrigation Development and Management Sector Project

sector: Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Rural Development | country: Lao, People’s Democratic Republic

Of the lessons listed in the project completion report (PCR), the validation views as most significant those that emphasize the importance of an integrated area development approach and the ‘soft’ side of public interventions. Irrigation management transfer (IMT) programs are more likely to succeed if these are packaged with ‘a full range of interlinked interventions, including social, organizational, financial, marketing, engineering, and agriculture extension.’

This validation, however, has reservations on the lessons relating to subproject selection. The first lesson says, ‘When selecting subprojects, first, the potential beneficiaries and water user association (WUA) members must be judged regarding if they have a genuine interest in taking responsibility to accept management of the asset independently or at least with minimum government support.’ The communities that have these characteristics are usually the richer ones; including this as a criterion for project selection would have an anti-equity bias. Perhaps the broader lesson in this regard is that social preparation should be incorporated in projects where active beneficiary participation is emphasized for project’s success.

With regard to the lesson that ‘Project supervision by the resident mission is more efficient and is preferred by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF),’ the arrangement apparently worked on this project. The advantages of having the resident mission supervise a project are easy to see. With this approach, however, liaising with the MAF and Department of Irrigation (DOI) becomes easier.

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