Built on the Ankaibe River, the dam measures fifty meters across and is connected to six kilometers of canals, including three kilometers made of concrete that lie underground. Financing provided by the World Bank was used to construct the dam, the associated sand removal basin, and the canals. An entire rocky hillside also had to be leveled in order to build the dam. The plant cover existing prior to construction was restored exactly as it was. The dam will make it possible to manage the irrigation of 2,100 hectares of paddy fields and will thus benefit more than 6,000 households in the area. For 23 years, farmers have been unable to work these fields for lack of an adequate irrigation system.
One hundred and forty-five households had to be displaced, or lost their land, owing to the dam construction. “All these individuals received compensation based on a relocation plan, in full compliance with applicable laws and World Bank operational policies,” noted Lanto Ramaroson, Coordinator of the national BVPI program. The Malagasy Government appropriated the sum of 600 million ariary, which was used to finance compensatory measures through the BVPI project and to organize training on stockraising and farming techniques.
The World Bank has long taken a special interest in the agricultural sector in general and in irrigation development in particular. “Our approach is now meant to be more integrated,” explained Coralie Gevers, World Bank Country Manager in Madagascar. “It interconnects infrastructure rehabilitation, agricultural intensification with an effective technological package, land security, and watershed development.” Involving all stakeholders (water user associations, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, and local officials) in the management and maintenance of irrigation schemes helps promote ownership of the infrastructure, a key factor for ensuring sustainability.
The method has demonstrated its effectiveness. “In our areas of intervention, we have found that the average yield has at least doubled. It used to be 2.7 metric tons per hectare, but it has climbed to 4.4 metric tons since project implementation began,” explained Ziva Razafintsalama, Senior Rural Development Specialist at the World Bank. The growth in productivity has had a positive effect on farmer income. Léon Rakotonirina, President of the Rice-Growers of Sahamaloto (Alaotra-Mangoro region, where BVPI is also active), expressed his satisfaction: “Most farmers working on at least two hectares of land have been able to buy a motorized cultivator, and those who used to have to walk or ride a bicycle have been able to buy a motorbike.” Still others, like Lucienne in Ambohitraivo (Alaotra-Mangoro region), have been able to build a larger house and purchase a tractor.