African irrigation management network extended
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CTA. 1990. African irrigation management network extended. Spore 29. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
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Newsletter of the ODI-IIMI Irrigation Management Network French translation Those wishing to receive the network papers should write to: The Irrigation Management Network Secretary Overseas Development Institute, Regents College, Regents Park, Londo
CTA is now supporting the French translation of the Newsletter of the ODI-IIMI Irrigation Management Network. This is sent twice a year, accompanied by four or five Papers, to some 1700 members world-wide. In future, thanks to the support of CTA, there will be a third issue per year on the special problems of African irrigation. The Papers and the Newsletter of this special edition will now be available in English and French. Irrigation has underlain much of the success which Asia has achieved in increasing the production of food and other crops, since a reliable water supply encourages farmers to invest in seeds of higher yielding varieties and to apply more fertilizer. Even in Asia, which has a long irrigation tradition, there have been problems in realizing the full potential of irrigation, in keeping down costs to government, and in ensuring the equitable and reliable delivery of water to all fields, including those at the tail ends of the systems. For this reason, an Irrigation Management Network was established at the Overseas Development Institute in London in 1975, with the support of the British Overseas Development Administration. Its purpose was to carry out research on methods of improving irrigation management, and to enable researchers, planners and managers to exchange the results of experience. In 1984 the international Irrigation Management Institute (IIMI) was established in Sri Lanka. With IlMI's support the ODI Network was expanded to become the ODI-IIMI Irrigation Management Network in 1986. During recent years there has been considerable investment in irrigation in Africa but, except in a few cases, the results have been disappointing. It is clear that by comparison with Asia there are special problems, partly because of the lack of necessary supporting structures, such as a good marketing system for agricultural inputs and outputs, and trained personnel. Due to poor maintenance, some schemes have collapsed after a few years. Governments have often reacted to this situation by endeavouring to supply everything required themselves. As a result, government services to irrigating farmers have been far more comprehensive than in Asia, covering, for example, provision of mechanized ploughing and marketing. As a corollary, governments have often taken full control of irrigated land, and fumed farmers into 'tenants'. Farmers in Africa have been far less free than those in Asia to choose their own crops, to make their own experiments, to find their own profitable market niches and to invest in improving their own land. The consequence has been that irrigation in Africa has often been very expensive, both in its demands for initial capital investment and in the recurrent costs to government. Despite these costs, yields and farm incomes have often been low. However, in many countries in Africa there is now an increasing number of trained irrigation engineers, agriculturalists, economists and other specialists, as well as an increasing realization that somehow, the needs and wishes of the farmers have to be better considered if the costs of irrigation are to be reduced, and its benefits increased. This is resulting in a diversity of new programmes. In addition, the International Irrigation Management Institute has opened three offices in Africa, in Morocco, Burkina Faso and the Sudan, and is initiating research programmes in these and neighbouring countries. It is also organizing workshops and exchange visits. Unfortunately, the flow of information about experiments and successes, which could enable reforms to be more soundly based and to be implemented in more places, has been impeded by the language barrier. Anglophone Africa has remained ignorant of the long irrigation tradition and of some very successful methods used in the mainly francophone north African countries, such as Morocco. Francophone Africa has been cut off, not only from experiments taking place in, for example, Nigeria and Zimbabwe, but also from the variety of institutional reforms taking place in Asia, which might be relevant to their needs. Successes in increasing the ability of farmers to manage their own schemes along the River Senegal, although written up in journals and discussed at conferences, remain inaccessible to many anglophone African irrigation officers. The support of CTA should enable this situation to be changed. Membership of the Network is free of charge. The Network is aimed particularly at those working in ministries, those in charge of projects at the provincial level, and those concerned with relevant teaching and research programmes. Members in the Anglophone Network receive three Newsletters and three sets of Papers per year, two on general issues, and one on African irrigation. Those who join the Francophone Network will receive the two general Newsletters, in French, and the African Newsletter and Papers, also in French. Those wishing to receive the network papers should write to: The Irrigation Management Network Secretary Overseas Development Institute, Regents College, Regents Park, London NW1 4NS, UK
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