An outcome assessment of a developmental project : a case study of the Dotito-Muchenje irrigation project in Mount Darwin district, Mashonaland Central Province, Zimbabwe
The establishment of the Dotito-Muchenje irrigation project was an endeavour initiated by the Government of Zimbabwe, to empower local people. It was done to improve the livelihoods of the people. However, despite the launch of the project, socio-economic challenges remain pressing issues. The inability to make decent livelihoods continues to affect rural farmers, resulting in the scheme being unable to be fully-functional. The problems thus undermine the capability of the project to address poverty and inequality, which was core to the project initiation. This research focuses on an outcome assessment of the irrigation project as it relates to the livelihoods of people in the Dotito rural communal area. Both quantitative and qualitative methodologies were used in the study. Twenty-four farmers, out of a possible ninety farmers, were selected to complete questionnaires. Radom sampling was used to identify and select participants. Data collection was done using interviews, questionnaires and observations. Analyses were done using descriptive statistics. Tables and graphs were presented based on the information gathered from the farmers. The research findings show that the Dotito-Muchenje irrigation scheme partly managed to empower the local people. Some of the indicators used include: employment creation, income generation, and changes to the socio-economic livelihoods of beneficiary farmers. However, lack of support and the prevailing economic situation are among the many challenges that make it difficult for the farmers to achieve their full potential in terms of improving their livelihoods. Another challenge relates to water availability. Irrigation pumps at the irrigation scheme use electricity to supply water needed by the farmers, thus there is inadequate water supply. This is because the electricity supply has long been cut-off due to the arrears accumulated by the farmers. It has rendered the irrigation partially functional, resulting in low productivity. The low crop yield makes it difficult to fully address the food security situation for the people. While others blame the situation on the land reform, based on evidence from development practitioners and farmers interviewed, the unsuccessfulness of the irrigation could be attributed to lack of project tracking (monitoring and evaluation) by government. It is in this context that intervention by the government, non-governmental organizations and the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority, is recommended to ensure the viability and sustainability of the irrigation scheme and facilitate its positive impact on rural livelihoods.