1International Water Management Institute, P.O.Box 2075, Colombo, Sri Lanka
2Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies, Dhaka, Bangladesh
3Institute of Rural Management, Anand, India
4The Policy School, Mangalpura, Anand, India
This paper offers an assessment of the social impact of the treadle pump technology for manual \ irrigation in Eastern India, Nepal terai and Bangladesh, South Asia’s so called ‘poverty square’. Many claims are made in favour of the technology. It self-selects the poor; it puts to productive use the region’s vast surplus family labor, and is claimed to raise the annual net household income by US $ 100 on the average.
The paper reviews evidence from a variety of studies—including our own--designed to test these claims; and concludes that: [a] the treadle pump technology does ‘self-select’ the poor, although the first-generation adopters tend to be the less poor; [b] it does raise net annual incomes of adopter households by US $ 50-500 with an average value in the neighborhood of US $ 100; it transforms small-holder farming systems in different ways in different sub-regions; in North Bengal and Bangladesh, adopters take to cultivation of High Yielding rice in boro season; elsewhere, adopters turn to vegetable cultivation and marketing; [c] it results inincreased land-use intensity as well as ‘priority cultivation’; adopters provide crop-saving irrigation in a large part of their holding but practice highly intensive farming in the ‘priority plot’; [d] average crop yields on ‘priority plots’ tend to be much higher than obtained by farmers using diesel pumps or other irrigation devices; [e] income impact varies across households and regions; but $100/year as the average increase in annual net income seems a conservative estimate. Less enterprising adopters achieve fuller employment at ‘implicit wage rate’ that is 1.5-2.5 times the market rate. The more enterprising take to intelligent commercial farming and earn substantially more.
For a marginal farmer with $ 12-15 to spare in this region, there could hardly be a better investment than a treadle pump which has a benefit: cost ratio of 5, IRR of 100% and pay-back period of a year. It thus ideally fills the need of the marginal farmers in the Ganga-Meghna-Brahmaputra basin. The challenge lies in its marketing; exceptional ingenuity seems to be required to put the treadle pump in the hands of millions of rural poor. In Bangladesh, where this has become possible, over a million pumps so far sold probably do not account for a large proportion of the irrigated area but have certainly reached a significant proportion of Bangladesh’s rural poor. In Eastern India and Nepal terai, the technology was introduced only in the 1990’s; therefore total sales have been in the neighborhood of 200,000 against an estimated ultimate potential of 9-10 million. For significant impact on the poverty in the region, treadle pump sales need to quickly cross the 100,000 per year barrier in Eastern India and Nepal terai, possibly by recreating here the conditions that led to Bangladesh’s three-year long sales boom during the early 1990’s, which very nearly saturated its treadle pump market.
WORKSHOP WOMEN IN IRRIGATION IN SOUTHERN AFRICA
The National Department of Agriculture of South Africa is organizing a workshop ‘Women in Irrigation in Southern Africa’, in collaboration with the Southern African branch of the International Commission of Irrigation and Drainage (SANCID), the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), International Programme for Technology Research for Irrigation and Drainage (IPTRID), and Ford Foundation, on 23 October 2000 in Johannesburg. The aims of this workshop are
q to highlight experiences of significant positive impacts of gender-balance in irrigation development,
q to propose policy and operational guidelines for gender balance in irrigation development at a national and regional scale, and
q to promote information dissemination, capacity building and regional networking.
In this preparatory discussion note we identify key gender issues that emerge from experience and literature in Southern Africa and elsewhere in Sub-Saharan Africa. The note particularly refers to the ‘success-stories’ that will be presented and discussed during the workshop. As a preparation for the workshop, participants are invited to comment, amend and give their own diagnosis of the key gender issues in smallholder irrigation and policy options. The resulting shared understanding of the problems and likely solutions, then, provides the sound basis for the next steps before and during the workshop to formulate policy recommendations and operational guidelines for gender-balanced irrigation development.