The Ministry of Agriculture of Lao PDR has initiated a project aiming at the rehabilitation and extension of an irrigation system in the Boualapha district in the province of Khammouane. This irrigation system has stopped functioning since the weir that had been built in the 1990s across the river has been flushed away by floods. The project aims at securing wet season rice cultivation (affected by punctual droughts), at supporting diversification in the dry season, and at establishing Water User Groups to collectively managed the rehabilitated scheme that will cover two villages. Using participatory approaches based on simulation tools and serious games, CIRAD and IRD are providing a methodological support to the establishment and capacity building of these Water user Groups. Two master-level internships have been conducted in 2018 and 2019 and allowed to (1) elaborate different cultivation scenarios (i.e. type of crops and size of the irrigated area) according to different levels of water availability and (2) develop a prototype of simulation tool allowing to identify and discuss water management and allocations rules together with future irrigators and agricultural extension service. At the same time, the detailed design of the scheme (including the exact location of the canal network) has been finalized and construction work will start in September 2020. Farmers’ involvement in construction works is an important pre-requisite for the sustainability of the future irrigation system and constitutes a turning point when general water management and water sharing principles need to be “translated” into operational guidelines, collective rules to be respected, and enforcement mechanisms under the responsibility of clearly identified water user groups.
Content of the internship
The intern will refine the existing simulation tool so that it will mimic the actual irrigated area (location of the canal network, size of the irrigation blocks, etc.). The simulation tool will be refined so that it can be notably be used to (1) further discuss the adequacy between water availability and water demand on the basis of different cropping patterns and river flows; (2) identify water management rules, including the identification of the areas to be irrigated and water distribution rules to be followed in both wet and dry seasons; (3) identify conflict resolution mechanisms; (4) addresses issues of willingness to pay and its adequacy with scheme management needs (e.g. payment of an irrigation fee). A series of participatory workshops will be organized with farmers from the two villages served by the scheme and staff from the district agricultural office (the number and exact content of the workshop will be decided when the simulation tool will be refined. This internship supports the district (Boualapha) and regional (Khammouane) agricultural offices and SOFRECO, responsible for the creation of Water User groups for the management of the irrigation scheme.
The internship will take place in the autumn of 2020/winter of 2021, under an agreement with IRD or CIRAD. Duration of 5 to 6 months starting in September or October 2020. The intern will work together with Lao technician, researchers and/or students providing translation assistance.
Student following an agronomy engineering cursus (M1), with a focus on developing countries and tropical agriculture. A good command of English is mandatory; Knowledge of water and irrigation issues and previous experience in South-East Asia are a plus.
Deadline April 15, 2020