|Irrigation Training Manual: Planning, Design, Operation and Management of Small-Scale Irrigation Systems (Peace Corps, 1994, 151 p.)|
|Introduction to the irrigation manual|
Conducting a pre-service or in-service training in irrigation principles and practices will involve the following steps:
1. Establish host country and Peace Corps program goals and objectives.
2. Conduct a staff development workshop that enables staff to define roles and responsibilities.
3. Prepare a schedule of training sessions and activities.
4. Identify suitable work sites for conducting all field activities.
5. Assemble written materials, visual aids, and supplies.
6. Prepare the work sites.
Establish Program Goals and Objectives:
The training staff need to work with the in-country Peace Corps program officers to define the entry level skills that are expected of irrigation Volunteers. These skill levels will greatly influence the level of detail and material content in many training sessions.
Trainers also need basic information about country agricultural and irrigation practices. This will enable the training sessions to be modified so that the information is site specific and not generic. Specific information that should be obtained includes:
- climatic data,
- typical crops cultivated and total crop acreage,
- typical farm sizes and approximate yields by crop for various farm size classes,
- crop planting seasons,
- types of irrigation systems in use and acreage irrigated,
- types of farm equipment typically used by small or medium sized farms (e.g., pumps, generators, tractors),
- soil conservation practices in accepted use by farmers, and
- components of in-country extension systems.
Ideally, the technical trainers will have time to meet with government or private sector officials working with small and medium-scale irrigation programs in country and to visit actual irrigation systems and interview farmers. Trainers should allocate at least one week, depending upon the size of the country, diversity of systems in use, and ease of travel, to interview officials and farmers and visit as many different farms as possible.
If interviews and field trips will not be possible, then the trainers should have the Associate Peace Corps Director (APCD) bring together current or recent in-country irrigation Volunteers for a group meeting. These Volunteers, along with the APCD, can help orient the trainers as quickly as possible. Trainers must remember, however, that the experiences and skill levels of these Volunteers may be limited and may not provide the trainers with all the background information they may want.
Conduct a Staff Development Workshop:
The work load during the training will, at times, seem to be increasing exponentially on a daily basis. The best way for the training staff to maintain some sense of efficiency through all of this is for the staff members to mutually define each person's role and responsibilities. Some people will have limited training experience and will benefit from some introductory training-of-trainers sessions. The APCD facilitating the trainer should work with the Training Director to prepare a minimum of a three-day Staff Development Workshop. This workshop should include sessions that:
- allow the trainers to learn about each other's backgrounds, strengths, weaknesses, and specific areas of interest;
- develop experiential learning skills and get trainers to build experiential learning practices into the sessions they will be conducting;
- build communication skills and result in some agreed upon mechanisms for working out problems, disagreements, or misunderstandings that may arise among the staff during the training;
- enable the staff to plan a daily schedule for the entire training and define the roles that each member of the training will fulfill every day in the schedule; and
- enable the staff to prepare materials and organize for the training. Technical staff will be able to use this time to modify and assemble materials for each lesson plan and make the necessary contacts for work sites to be used by Trainees.
If language training will be incorporated into the technical training, then the technical trainers should work with the language trainers to enable them to build technical terms and concepts into their language lesson plans.
Prepare a Schedule of Sessions and Activities:
The design of the training should always be location specific and influenced by the types of Peace Corps programs being implemented, host country program objectives, and actual site conditions. These factors will determine the sequence of training sessions, priority of session topics to be covered, level of detail needed in each session, and entry level skills that should result from the training. A schedule of sessions and activities for a training should be an output of the Staff Development Workshop. In developing this schedule, the staff should consider the following:
- host country program goals, farming practices, typical skill levels for sites in which Volunteers will be working;
- number of Trainees and trainers involved;
- physical, ecological, and social conditions in the countries for which training is being carried out;
- apparent skill levels of the Trainees (if known);
- total number of hours available for each training component: technical, cross-cultural, generic Peace Corps program sessions, and language (remember, too, to factor in "slack time" to account for breaks between sessions and travel time to and from work sites, for example);
- length of training and its relationship to the tasks that will be attempted in Trainee field projects;
- training site conditions; and
- topics and level of detail covered in other Peace Corps trainings in which Trainees may also participate.
With this information in mind, the staff can proceed through the following steps:
1. Prioritize the skills that must be emphasized in the training and define the level of detail required for each.
2. Draw up a list of sessions to be carried out along with their approximate time requirements. Aim for a training schedule that will have about 65-75% in-the-field activities and 25-35% classroom sessions. Be critical about what must be included in the training and what is optional. Overloading Trainees with information will not yield good results. Determine with some level of precision how much time will be required for Trainees to complete field projects, including after-session repair and maintenance work.
3. Map out a list of sessions to be covered during each week of the training. The daily schedule can be built from this initial rough outline. In mapping each week, consider (a) the field tasks that must be done first and which can be plugged into the training on an as-fits basis, (b) the total amount of time and probable training periods that will need to be devoted to field project maintenance and repair, (c) weekly themes to be emphasized, (d) ways to link classroom activities directly to field work so that they reinforce one another, and (e) a pace that can be upheld by both the training staff and the Trainees. Training staff should also be prepared to limit the amount of material covered in the first few days, since Trainees will need this period to orient themselves and develop necessary work attitudes.
Identify Suitable Work Sites:
An irrigation training will require a great deal of practical, hands-on field experience, mostly to give Trainees an opportunity to learn directly their own skill levels. The field activities that are likely to be carried out in a typical irrigation training would include the following:
- Collecting baseline data about a representative community's needs and problems related to irrigation and water resources.
- Meeting with representatives from a community water users association.
- Delineating a small watershed and assessing watershed conditions in terms of soil and water resources.
- Measuring flow rates in small channels.
- Calculating the slope and total area from a water source to a potential irrigated field site.
- Evaluating the movement of water and plant growth characteristics in several different soil types.
- Constructing earthen or rock dams to divert water from small channels.
- Developing the flow from a spring as a water supply and evaluating completed spring boxes.
- Rehabilitating an existing well and evaluating work in progress on a hand dug and drilled well.
- Evaluating a variety of pumps used to lift water and repairing a simple pump.
- Constructing a small pond to store water for field irrigation.
- Evaluating the soils and irrigation practices being used on a farm to grow crops.
- Constructing irrigation canals to transport water to a field.
- Installing pipe-works to convey water from a source to a field.
- Smoothing the ground surface in a small field.
- Installing sprinklers to apply water in a field.
- Installing perforated pipe to apply water through a drip fashion in a field.
- Constructing a terrace, planning a contour row of crops, and constructing check dams in a gully.
- Evaluating soils that have been subject to waterlogging or high salt content and applying amendments or procedures to reduce the damage to these soils.
Trainers need to have identified suitable sites to complete all of these activities. Contact should have been made with local farmers to inform them of the purpose and duration of the training and solicit their participation and support. Again, it is most advisable to locate a physical training site that provides close access to field conditions that will fulfill all of these training needs.
Assemble Materials Aids and Supplies:
Trainers should have all handouts, visual aids, and other teaching tools completed and organized before the training begins. The session plans include reference to materials in the appendices or other texts that can be photocopied directly or modified and typed to serve as handouts, tests, or exercises for the Trainees. Each session plan includes a list of materials that will be needed to complete the activities included. The session plans also describe video support that can supplement each topic.
It will be essential for the trainers to build a strong reference library available to the Trainees throughout the training. The bibliography in the technical reference component of this manual includes an annotated list of books and documents many of which should be available at any training site. Most of these materials should be available through the Peace Corps Information Collection and Exchange (ICE) service.
Trainers must also assemble a complete set of tools to enable Trainees to complete their field projects. Every Trainee must be provided with tools that they are to keep throughout their service. Tools and equipment (indicated in Appendix A of the Irrigation Reference Manual) must be at the training site and made available on a loan basis to Trainees throughout the duration of the training.