An assessment of the impact of Small Scale irrigation schemes on livelihoods and poverty reduction in the Upper East Region

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Economic growth and poverty reduction has been the main thrust of the Government of Ghana as enshrined in the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy and Growth and Poverty Reduction (GPRSI&II) and the GSGDA over the period of 2003 to 2013. In order to achieve these objectives agriculture which is a major sector that provides livelihood for over 80% of Ghanaians has being targeted and a number of policies and interventions proposed and initiated. Trends in development and climate variability have made it imperative for the transformation of the agricultural sector. Irrigation development has been one of the attempts towards modernizing the sector. The Ghana Irrigation Development Authority (GIDA) is established with the task of promoting, supporting and managing irrigation technology in Ghana. The Upper East region has 220 dams and dugouts as at 2007 and estimated at 300 by 2011 as targeted by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA). The region is also endowed with a network of rivers and valleys that enhance the practice of irrigation. Communities have taken the acquisition of dams and dugouts and machines for pumping water as major community assets. This research is a comparative study of communities with irrigation practice and communities without irrigation practice as well as households and farmers that engage in irrigation and those that do not to establish the cause and effects of the results of the investment in small scale irrigation practice on the livelihoods of smallholder farmers towards poverty reduction. The focus is on small scale irrigation that is practiced, controlled and managed by the farmers in their own way. A comparative analysis of surrogate indicators of data collected on the dependent variables which are poverty reduction and livelihood development, the study revealed that irrigation has effect on the living conditions of smallholder farmers towards improving yields, expanding length of employment, reducing hunger gaps and at the meso level affects food prices, migration and community asset building including roads. But the effect would have been greater if the practice did not face challenges such as inadequate access to credit facility, extension service and irrigable lands. Less women than men carry out farming activities and attempts needs to be made to reduce the gap so that many men as women would engage in irrigation practice to help reduce poverty. iv This research recommends further investment into the practice and investigations into identifying and controlling pest and disease of irrigated crops.
A thesis submitted to the of Department of Planning, Kwame Nkrumah University of science and Technology in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Degree of Master of Science in Development Policy and Planning.