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Lao People’s Democratic Republic: Northern Community-Managed Irrigation Sector Project

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

This validation agrees with the lessons described in the project completion report (PCR) and in particular notes the vulnerability and sustainability of the project’s achievements. It is clear that the economic viability of the 33 subprojects would be compromised by either an extreme increase in construction costs or a sharp drop in the rice price, or heavy rain damage as in 2008.

It is also emphasized that project targets aimed at including vulnerable groups (women and ethnic groups) should be based on a thorough understanding of realities and local institutional capacity. In the project’s gender action plan, the goal of reducing rice deficits was to be achieved by having women constitute 50% of farmers. Since rural women, by tradition, are fully active in farming, the 50% target was irrelevant. Moreover, there was no logical link between rice deficits and the number of female farmers.

The PCR noted that while world rice prices are beyond the control of any project, the importance of applying strict cost-effectiveness criteria in subproject selection is an important lesson learned. Similarly, the estimation of with-project incremental command areas needs to be conservative and recognized that considerable time may be required for farmers to complete all on-farm developments.

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