Notes de synthèse

Economic evaluation of irrigation projects in Cambodia : influence of institutional investments on the sustainability of the schemes

2016Gwenn Guillaumie

The sustainability and the performance of irrigated systems are important issues. To face these challenges, participatory irrigation management policies were developed worldwide from the end of the 1980s, and from the end of the 1990s in Cambodia. Indeed, the management of irrigated systems by water users associations, in charge of the operation and maintenance (O&M) of the irrigated schemes, was meant to allow better performing systems. Yet, the performance of water users associations depends very much on the institutional support provided to them and on the level of involvement of water users during project design and implementation. The goal of this study is to see to what extent institutional investments in irrigation projects in Cambodia influence the sustainability of irrigated schemes. By comparing the results of 4 different projects, for which institutional support was different, we show that the latter does not have noticeable impact in terms of yield and rice income. However, the results in terms of fee collection, allowing the financing of the O&M of the schemes, differ significantly between the 4 documented projects. In the projects characterized by higher institutional investment, fee collection allows the
funding of around one third of O&M needs. In the other projects, fee recovery only allows the funding of less than 3% of these O&M needs. Therefore, it is likely that institutional investment and support have an impact on the sustainability of irrigated perimeters over the long term. Taking in consideration other indicators and more diverse strategies of institutional support would be necessary to confirm the added value of such institutional investment. Furthermore, the funding of O&M needs still remains an important issue because, even in the schemes that have received a lot of support, water users are not able to meet the full O&M needs