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Throughout the world irrigation is considered as a vehicle for agricultural and economic development. As a result investments in irrigation have been accelerated in recent years. This is a welcome situation for the world as a whole and for Zimbabwe in particular, where the agricultural growth rate lags behind the population growth rate. Given the limitations posed by the climate in Zimbabwe, irrigation is necessary in many parts of the country for achieving agricultural growth.

Irrigation plays a pivotal role in food security, income generation, employment creation, improved nutrition and raising of the standard of living of farmers. However, some irrigation schemes have been found to be non-viable and causing a lot of financial burden on the government. It is therefore important to assess both the good schemes and the bad schemes and come out with the factors that make good schemes good and bad schemes bad. This socio-economic assessment generates information useful for directing the future planning and development of smallholder schemes.


This report was prepared by Mr. Dagmore Tawonezvi, in collaboration with Mr. Kennedy Mudima, under a contract with the FAO Sub-Regional Office for East and Southern Africa (SAFR) in Harare, Zimbabwe. Mr. Tawonezvi is a Senior Agricultural Economist in the Department of Agricultural, Technical and Extension Services, AGRITEX, of the Ministry of Lands and Agriculture in Zimbabwe. Mr. Mudima is a Senior Irrigation Engineer at AGRITEX and former Young Professional Officer (YPO) at the FAO-SAFR Office.

The report is the result of a combination of literature review and fieldwork to assess the performance of ten smallholder irrigation schemes in Zimbabwe. It was reviewed by Mr. Andreas Savva and Ms. Karen Frenken, Water Resources Management Officers at the FAO-SAFR Office, and Ms. Tove Lilja, APO Water Resources Management Officer. They provided useful comments and suggestions for improvement.

List of acronyms

AFC Agricultural Finance Corporation
AGRITEX Agricultural Technical and Extension Services
ARDA Agricultural and Rural Development Authority
BCR Benefit Cost Ratio
CSO Central Statistical Office
DA District Administrator
DANIDA Danish International Development Agency
DC Development Committee
DDF District Development Fund
DERUDE Department of Rural Development
DWR Department of Water Resources
EIRR Economic Internal Rate of Return
ESAP Economic and Structural Adjustment Programme
EW Extension Worker
FAO Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
FAO-SAFR FAO Sub-Regional Office for Eastern and Southern Africa
FIRR Financial Internal Rate of Return
GDP Gross Domestic Product
GMB Grain Marketing Board
GOR Government of Rhodesia
GOZ Government of Zimbabwe
HPC Horticultural Promotion Council
IFPRI International Food Policy Research Institute
IMC Irrigation Management Committee
ISF Irrigation Support Fund
KfW Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau
MSU Michigan State University
MP Member of Parliament
NFIF National Farm Irrigation Fund
NPV Net Present Value
NR Natural Region
O & M Operation and Maintenance
PRA Participatory Rural Appraisal
RDC Rural District Council
RO Resettlement Officer
SADC Southern African Development Community
SSIP Support to Smallholder Irrigation Programme
UZ University of Zimbabwe
WUA Water Users Association
YPO Young Professional Officer
ZESA Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority
ZFU Zimbabwe Farmers' Union
ZIMPREST Zimbabwe Policy Reforms for Social and Economic Transformation

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