Irrigation Assistance to Developing Countries Should Require Stronger Commitments to Operation and Maintenance

Gao ID: NSIAD-83-31 August 29, 1983

GAO reviewed the operation and maintenance (O&M) of U.S.-financed irrigation systems in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Thailand to determine how the Agency for International Development (AID) can: (1) improve operation and maintenance practices of developing countries and extend the economic life of the irrigation systems; and (2) design irrigation systems that adequately consider O&M requirements.

GAO found that donors have demonstrated their concern with developing country food problems by investing in irrigation systems and other facilities. At the same time, they have not given sufficient attention to the complementary institutional and financial costs of operating and maintaining the facilities. Donors have assumed that recipient countries would provide recurrent budget support to effectively operate and maintain projects, but this has not happened. AID has prepared a policy on recurrent cost financing, but the World Bank and Asian Development Bank have not. GAO believes that institutional as well as financial weaknesses affect the recipient countries' ability to effectively use and maintain irrigation systems, and found that many systems do not provide reliable water sources and have not become self-sustaining. GAO found that AID project designs have assumed that water user associations would be established to provide on-farm maintenance, ensure equitable water distribution, and maintain discipline among users. Generally, these assumptions have not been realized. Consequently, systems have been vandalized, water wasted or stolen, and routine maintenance ignored.


Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Open," "Closed - implemented," or "Closed - not implemented" based on our follow up work.

Director: Joseph E. Kelley Team: General Accounting Office: National Security and International Affairs Division Phone: (202) 275-5790

The Justia Government Accountability Office site republishes public reports retrieved from the U.S. GAO These reports should not be considered official, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Justia.