A project funded by theJapanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries  //  農林水産省

      Paddy fields

Assement tools

The Land and Water division of FAO uses different tools to assess the performance of irrigation schemes and to provide practical solutions to improve operation and management of these schemes. The two tools used to modernize surface irrigation schemes that are presented in this section are the "Rapid Appraisal Procedure (RAP)" and "Mapping System and Services for Canal Operation TEchniques (MASSCOTE)".


The Rapid Appraisal Procedure (RAP) allows qualified personnel to systematically and quickly determine key indicators of irrigation projects. The RAP can generally be completed with 2 weeks or less of field and office work. The procedure examines external inputs such as water supplies, outputs such as water destinations (ET, surface runoff, etc.), and it provides a systematic appraisal of the hardware and processes used to convey and distribute water internally to all levels within the project (from the source to the fields).

The first version of the RAP was developed in the mid-1990s by the Irrigation Training and Research Center (ITRC) of the California Polytechnic State University, as aprt of a research programme financed by the World Bank to evaluate the impact on performance of the introduction of modern control and management practices in irrigation. Since its introduction, the RAP has been used successfully by FAO, the World Bank and other irrigation professionals for appraising projects in Asia, Latin America, and North Africa.

The RAP consists of completing an MS-EXCEL spreadsheet by following clear guidelines:

arrow The RAP evaluation - Short introduction
arrow Rapid Appraisal Process (RAP) and Benchmarking - Introduction, explanation and guidelines
arrow RAP example spreadsheet - Right click to safe and download
arrow RAP blank spreadsheet - Right click to safe and download

To better understand the performance of the irrigation sector in Monsoon Asia, a study was carried out where 17 irrigation systems from 10 countries were analysed and mutually compared. The study made use of the RAP-methodology, conducted during training workshops on irrigation modernization from 2002 - 2006.

arrow Performance analysis of paddy irrigation systems in Monsoon Asia


The methodology called Mapping System and Services for Canal Operation TEchniques (MASSCOTE) is a methodology to evaluate current processes and performance and develop a project for modernizing canal operation. MASSCOTE is developed on the basis of RAP by focusing on solutions to improve the process of canal operation for a service-oriented management.

The MASSCOTE methodology has been applied in the framework of the ESPIM-project during a three day training workshop called "Modernization strategy of large scale rice-based irrigation systems in Terrai, Nepal".

The contributions of the working group sessions at the workshop, together with the outcomes of the benchmarking exercise organized by the World Bank in the Sunsari Morang Irrigation System in 2004, have been largely included in the below report "MASSCOT: a methodology to modernize irrigation services and operation in canal systems - Applications to two systems in Nepal Terai: Sunsari Morang Irrigation System and Narayani Irrigation System". However, the conclusions and proposals have been further developed and refined by Daniel Renault and Robina Wahaj (FAO). Thus, although largely inspired by the outcomes of these workshops, the report does not strictly reflect them.

The activities mentioned contributed to the evalutation and improvement of the MASSCOTE - methodology which led eventually to the publication of FAO Irrigation and Drainage Paper 63: "Modernizing irrigation management - the MASSCOTE approach".

The concept of Service Oriented Management (SOM) is central in the MASSCOTE approach. When applied to large irrigation systems as part of an irrigation modernization strategy, SOM clearly reveals the various uses and users beyond the crop and beyond the farmers. Multiple uses of water services (MUS) is attracting an increasing attention of decision makers and water professionals from different perspectives (water for domestic use, irrigation, power generation, environment, tourism, etc.) Generally speaking Multiple Uses of water Services (MUS) is often a de facto and sometimes unknown practice that has been exposed as a result of studies carried out to address concerns regarding water services provision to poor people and farmers, the impact of irrigation development/management on ecosystem, and the issue of low performance on irrigation systems. In medium and large irrigation systems the concept of multiple uses of water has gained momentum during the last decade as the result of SOM. The necessity to improve service to users and to progressively balance the account for operation and management has led managers to cense more carefully uses and users and ultimately the potential payers of the services.

Experiences with respect to SOM and MUS have been gathered by FAO as part of modernization projects of 20 large irrigation systems in mainly Asia. The analyses of these experiences has been documented in the paper Service Oriented Management and Multiple Uses of Water in modernizing Large Irrigation Systems, which was presented by Daniel Renault on the International symposium on Multiple Use Water Services in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 4 to 6 November 2008.

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