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9. The role of land evaluation in project appraisal and implementation

9.1 Feasibility appraisal
9.2 Project implementation and monitoring

9.1 Feasibility appraisal

Most major investment agencies require that the completed feasibility study be subject to a review by an Appraisal Mission. Following completion and submission of the project proposals, a review carried out by the Appraisal Mission leads to the final decisions as to whether the project should be implemented, modified or rejected.

The main purpose of the Appraisal is to confirm that the project is:

- in conformity with the country's development objectives and immediate priorities;

- technically sound, and the best of the available alternatives under existing technical and other constraints;

- administratively workable;

- unlikely to affect the environment adversely.

The Appraisal Mission prepares a report that provides technical, economic and financial justification of the proposed and revised project, for review by the donor agency management and for loan negotiations with the borrower. Commonly, modifications and 'conditions' are agreed at this stage, prior to funding and implementation.

The report of the Appraisal Mission is a comprehensive, concise document that deals with the following aspects of the feasibility study:

i. the government's policies for agricultural development and particularly for irrigation development, insofar as they are relevant to the delineation of the area to be irrigated;

ii. the physical resource base as reported in the land evaluation studies and the cropping, irrigation and management proposals;

iii. the socio-economic examination of the people in the project area to ensure that the proposed development is appropriate to their attitudes and abilities, and that the facilities will be utilized;

iv. the engineering options for irrigating and draining the project land, and of their phasing, in order to ensure that the most economical but realistic solution is selected;

v. the preliminary design of, and a construction schedule for both civil and on-farm works, in order to demonstrate their suitability and to estimate their costs (and the phasing of those costs) and operational characteristics;

vi. the scheduling of the land use changes in agriculture (size and type of farm enterprise, land use, changes in crops and their yields) on the basis of physical and human resources, marketing possibilities and forecast prices;

vii. the phasing of the various measures and inputs necessary to achieve the agricultural plan;

viii. the management and organization necessary to construct, commission, operate and manage the project, within the projected time schedule;

xi. the financial returns to the farmers and to the operating authority; the extent of cost recovery by the government; the economic benefit to the country and the environmental impact of the project.

The scrutiny of the land evaluation reports and maps and the Appraisal Mission's findings on how the results of the land evaluation were used in the formulation of the project plan, are important aspects of its work. In general, the Appraisal Mission examines:

a. the data base on which the land evaluation is founded;

b. the description of alternative LUTs and the reasons for the choice of cropping, irrigation and management systems;

c. the selection of class-determining factors and the specification of land use requirements and limitations;

d. the relative importance or 'Significance' accorded to the class-determining factors in the choice of land suitability classes and subclasses;

e. the consistency of mapping the 'provisionally-irrigable' area and the considerations that were decisive in delineating the suitable land;

f. the revision of the land suitability maps to delineate the 'irrigable' area, the incorporation of the results of drainage and other studies, and the revision of the boundaries of land units on the basis of water supply considerations and NIIB;

g. the liaison between engineers, economists, agronomists, social scientists, and other disciplines in reaching decisions on the proposals.

The Appraisal report is an independant assessment of the project with necessary revisions of the feasibility study proposals. It is an essential preliminary prior to funding the detailed design and implementation.

9.2 Project implementation and monitoring

Land evaluation reports and maps are used during the detailed design of engineering works and in the layout of farms and fields. During the implementation of a project, Supervision Missions representing the investor, normally review progress periodically and provide the authority for changes in the execution of the project, where necessary. The principal role of the Supervision Mission is to ascertain that the project is executed and operated as set forth in the loan documents, but revisions may be required as a result of unforeseen circumstances. Essentially, development is a process of learning from experience and it is necessary to adapt and update land evaluation reports, maps and the plans based on them from time to time.

Irrigation projects always need to be monitored to ensure their continued success. Feasibility studies and Appraisal Reports will contain recommendations for monitoring and some of these will be derived from the land evaluation studies. Monitoring of the groundwater table, soil salinity and sodicity, water supply and use, and other changeable land characteristics are cautionary measures that serve to warn of adverse changes in the dynamic environment. If unfavourable trends become apparent, remedial action through management or other changes can be implemented.

In the event of major changes in cropping, irrigation or management because of changed economic circumstances or government policies, the land evaluation process can be reinitiated using the existing inventories of land resources.

The rehabilitation of irrigation projects that have declined because of poor management, social or economic changes, or environmental degradation, should likewise be preceded by a re-evaluation of the land suitability, to ensure that the rehabilitation measures are well suited to the physical, social and economic conditions prevailing.

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