Performance of an irrigation system is represented by its measured levels of achievement in terms of one or several parameters that are chosen as indicators of the system’s goals. The purpose of this paper is to utilize and refine a set of evaluation indicators that can be used to describe the irrigation performance for sixteen international irrigation projects in less-developed countries. The irrigation performance of many international irrigation projects in less-developed countries has been reported as poor. The cause of the poor irrigation performance has been blamed on technical, financial, managerial, social, and/or institutional causes. This study is specifically designed to evaluate whether irrigation project performance could be improved with modern irrigation design. A key feature of the new standards will be to provide irrigation project managers the information required to effectively improve the operations and service within a project. Results of this project indicate a need for a combination of both management and hardware improvements in every project visited. The primary conclusion is far-reaching and extremely significant for the future of irrigated agriculture in less-developed countries—increased levels of water delivery service (flexibility in flow rate, duration, and frequency) is a key determinant of improved performance of the farmers within the irrigation project (increased yields). The results from this study are very clear—modernized irrigation design can positively impact irrigation project performance.
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