Understanding the performance of publicly funded irrigation infrastructure with operation and management handed to smallholder farmers in Mozambique

Nhone, Eugénio
(2020) Understanding the performance of publicly funded irrigation infrastructure with operation and management handed to smallholder farmers in Mozambique. Doctor of Business Administration thesis, University of Liverpool.

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ABSTRACT The problem this research focuses on is the recorded underperformance of the publicly funded investment in irrigation infrastructure, designed to enhance smallholder farmers’ livelihoods in the poor rural areas of Mozambique. Understanding and acting on multiple stakeholders’ approaches is key to achieving satisfactory standards for the public good and ensuring the sustainability and longevity of public infrastructure. The adopted research methodology takes an innovative and contemporary approach, anchored in participatory research, with the active involvement of relevant stakeholders in bounding, framing or constructing the problem. This enabled the design of suitable actions in a freer and shared environment, voicing otherwise marginalised ideas and gaining participants’ collaboration in planning and implementing actions, and then sharing the results for learning purposes. The study found that farmers, although provided with improved technologies, still retain some of the cultural aspects entrenched in their traditional practices, making them resistant to changes, thus making innovation implementation difficult. To address this challenge, the study found that leadership strategies that enable building collectiveness and collaboration are key. To this effect, creating communication spaces where people expose their thoughts in an environment of trust, contributed to enhancing stakeholder commitment, change and transformation. The study also points out that for smallholder farmers’ transformation, it is critical that relationships between farmers and service providers are established and consolidated. These should consider the farmers’ context, conditions and level of growth. Irrigation development initiatives should be considered beyond technology itself, but also how this will affect and change existing practices and how people will react once their cultural, social and value aspects are affected. Engineers, in designing irrigation infrastructure, are often obsessed by proposals with low construction costs, neglecting good operation and maintenance characteristics that are key to management practice and long-term infrastructure sustainability. The National Irrigation Institute should reinvent and create an environment where irrigation operation and maintenance are provided as service to farmers rather than try to train farmers to do it by themselves, notwithstanding the fact that a strategic approach to generate ownership by farmers remains an important challenge. There is a need to establish partnerships between the actors providing services (inputs and market), with the management of the irrigation infrastructure as service providers, and the farmers holding the public irrigation infrastructure. Governments need to understand this as a strategic change that effects people culturally and socially. As such, a suitable duration should be considered rather than pushing for short timeframes that can misleadingly conclude with quick and unsustainable success. This research contributes in building cooperation, stimulates stakeholder engagement, including government and partners, to bridge stakeholder relationships as a key imperative for the success in public irrigation infrastructure initiatives. Key words: irrigation; public infrastructure; smallholder farmers; technology innovation; institutions; collective action; local projects; rural development; sustainability.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Business Administration)
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Management
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 14 Aug 2020 07:35
Last Modified: 18 Jan 2023 23:51
DOI: 10.17638/03087754
  • Nolan, Terry
  • Senaratne, Chaminda
URI: https://livrepository.liverpool.ac.uk/id/eprint/3087754