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Poverty reduction is an overriding goal for most countries in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) where majority of the poor live in rural areas mostly depending on rain-fed agriculture for their livelihoods. On the other hand, small-scale irrigation provides a large potential for achieving the region’s overarching goals of food security and poverty reduction. This study was therefore designed to evaluate the socioeconomic impacts of the Jain Drip Irrigation Project in Kibwezi, which was implemented to address food security and income generation. The specific objectives of the study were to: collect and review all the available data on the overall performance of the project, particularly on the agricultural, social, institutional and commercial aspects; carry out economic and social analysis on the performance of the project; evaluate the impact of the project, especially to determine its contribution towards the standard of living, income generation, employment creation and the potential to reduce rural to urban migration and dependence on drought relief; and document lessons learnt about what has made the project achieve or not achieve stipulated project objectives. In the short term, the Jain drip irrigation project brought immediate benefits, which included increased crop and livestock production for food and sale, translating to increased income and employment, especially for the youth and women. The cyclic annual dependence on relief food was eliminated, especially when implementation of the project was at its peak. The outcome from the project implementation was improved livelihoods in terms of improved health, better security and housing, as well as improved family relationships.
However, the benefits from the Jain drip irrigation project were short-lived because there was minimum involvement of beneficiaries’ right from the start of the project. The users were not sensitized or trained on the use of water (a public good) and there were no management and leadership structures in place to manage the project. This resulted in what is termed as the “Tragedy of the Commons” (where the public good-water- is used by all but the benefits are entirely private), where users were maximizing gains, resulting in mismanagement.

Published as FARA Research Report Volume 5 No: 12 (2020).