AN IMPACT ASSESSMENT OF IRRIGATION DEVELOPMENT ON THE ECONOMY AND INFRASTRUCTURE CASE STUDY: MWEA IRRIGATION SCHEME

ABSTRACT
Irrigation development has been identified as an important tool to stimulate economic growth and rural development, and is considered as a cornerstone of food security and poverty reduction. Despite the recognition of irrigation development as a powerful tool to promote rural development and offer food security, the rate of irrigation development has been slow in the country. About 84 percent of the country‚Äüs land mass is categorized as arid or semi arid. It is against this backdrop that irrigation development should be undertaken.
Irrigation development has often been criticized with opponents saying that irrigation development has imposed significant costs on the society. However, if irrigation development benefits outweigh the costs, then irrigation development should be encouraged. Critics of continued investment irrigation development have advanced the notion that such investments primarily benefit the farmers. This research study offers a comprehensive impact assessment of irrigation development on the economy and infrastructure development, and uses Mwea irrigation Scheme, the largest irrigation Scheme in the country, as the case study. The research study offers the cost benefit approach as the most basic way of assessing the impacts of irrigation development and looks at the management of irrigation in the country. The study shows that benefits of irrigation development go beyond the water users and the farm gates.
The study found out that irrigation development has a profound impact on the economy of the area. With hardly any other employment opportunities besides Irrigation, irrigation development offers a source of income to many residents within and around the scheme. Irrigation farming is the major source of income and it has attracted businesses in the area. Currently, the Mwea irrigation development project that seeks to rehabilitate and improve infrastructure in the region is ongoing. The project among other things will improve and upgrade the access roads.
Despite the contribution of irrigation to the economy of the area, the producers are faced by many challenges. Drawing from the findings of the study, the researcher recommends that, among other things, management of the irrigation sector should be undergo major institutional and legal reforms to ensure development and sustainability of the sector

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