|Development Projects in the Sudan: An Analysis of their Reports with Implications for Research and Training in Arid Land Management (UNU, 1979, 58 pages)|
|4. Project evaluation|
The distribution of the common problems mentioned is given in Table 24. The table reveals that permanence of cultivation, organizational shortcomings. social acceptance, and economic viability are of different magnitude at the various locations. But it seems that all projects, despite different designs and sizes of operations, have some problems which could be tackled successfully with the same kind of strategy. This is certainly true for permanence of cultivation and the shortcomings of organization. Table 24 shows these problems in most projects to be serious or most serious. The scale of judgment is of course a very arbitrary, one; subjective observation dominates objective data, which are not always sufficient to allow a balanced view. But it is an attempt to summarize the main critical points of the analysis.
The third common problem, social acceptance. has a mixed rating. On the one hand, this is due to the special Sudanese situation that vast areas of land are still available for cultivation. and projects need not necessarily clash with other vested interests in those regions. Projects could therefore be designed to fit expectations and resources of particular groups of people, such as immigrants, local small holders, tenants, absentee farmers. hired labour, nomads, etc. Each group has a unified social background and project organization could be adjusted to their specific needs. On the other hand, every time heterogeneous groups had to be included in one project, serious problems of acceptance were observed. This was especially true with nomads and their integration into a settlement scheme. This points to the need of data collection about the local population's opinions of the project's plans prior to their implementation. Wherever possible, plans must be prepared with the people, not for them!
TABLE 24. Range of Common Problems in Eight Development Projects, Sudan. 1978
|3.2||Khashm el Girba||irrigated||XX||XXX||XX||XX|
|3.3||Sag el Na am||irrigated||X||XX||X||XXX|
|3.6||Gerih el Sarha||livestock||XX||XXX||XXX||X|
|3.7||Agadi State Farm||rain-fed||XXX||X||X||XX|
Note: XXX = very serious problems. XX = serious problems, X = light problems
TABLE 25. Socio-economic Indicators of Selected Projects, Sudan, 1978
|No.||Scheme||Type||Income Generation||Employment||Local People's|
|3.2||Khashm el Girba||irrigated||+||·||+|
|3.3||Sag el Na'am||irrigated||-||-||-||+|
|3.6||Gerih el Sarha||livestock||+||-||-||-|
|3.7||Agadi State Farm||rain-fed||.||.||-||.|
Note: + = positive. - = negative. · = not significant
The fourth common problem, economic viability. is listed as serious to light for most projects. No project can be called economically sound from the private and the public point of view. The results depend. of course. heavily upon the evaluation methods used and the definition of social costs. It is equally difficult to calculate all social benefits to find a balance for each project. A sufficient economic viability of projects was reached in those cases where alternative project designs were developed and a selection process among alternatives could be implemented. This led to a better organizational structure and facilitated some flexibility in management decisions to improve the economic performance.
For further analysis, certain socio-economic indicators are worked out and presented in Table 25. They show the capacity of projects for private and public income generation as an indicator of the combination of local resources and additional external capital and labour input.
Employment creation has been added to emphasize the fact that income generation through economic growth'is fine as long as larger numbers of people will find productive employment. If economic growth has been accomplished without increasing the labour input in those regions where labour has been in surplus. project planning must certainly change to organizational types where employment creation plays a more decisive role.
Finally, local people's involvement indicates the degree of "bottom-up" planning and implementation. The difficulties are well known; the question is whether planners have always tried hard enough to get a local articulation process started.
4.2.1 Income Generation
The majority of projects show positive results for private income generation. This apparent profitability of the listed projects is demonstrated by the fact that most people plan to continue cultivation or ranching at the project site. There are also enough applicants ready to take over from those who may leave the schemes (for whatever reason). Large windfall gains during the first years before soil depletion starts are especially notable.
From the public point of view. the situation looks different. None of the projects has proved so far that it will be viable without continuous government support or that all expenses (including loans) can be repaid out of the generated income. If the government takes into account the environmental consequences of the projects' activities in arid land regions, the life-span of the projects may be shortened considerably. For example, for the Simsim Area Project, the World Bank originally calculated an economic rate of return to the investment of 17 per cent. Now, however. a major downward adjustment has to be made due to the fact that fallowing is not practiced and soil exhaustion is cutting the life-expectation of the project in half. This reduces the economic rate of return for the government to close to zero.
4.2.2 Employment Creation
Employment creation has lately become a major goal of development policies in many countries. The Sudan is no exception, as the ILO report Growth. Employment and Equity pointed out in 1976. The projects observed for the present study are not necessarily good examples; their employment potential is limited, except for the irrigated projects. In fact, the mechanized farming schemes are designed to use very few workers, because labour is usually not freely available in those remote areas and cultivation and harvesting are only feasible with tractors and mechanized equipment. In general. in the arid regions of Sudan, the number of people looking for jobs is quite limited. If employment opportunities are offered at irrigation schemes, they are mainly seasonal, and comfortable facilities for housing are usually missing. Employment creation is therefore a very complex problem, and most projects restrict themselves to the fuller use of underemployed people of the locality, or they have invited a small number of settlers to come to a scheme permanently and employ their family labour.
4.2.3 Local People's Involvement
The selected projects show different degrees of participation. Most projects were planned "topdown" only. People apparently have to be organized before a project starts to enable them to articulate their needs and their local experience. A number of projects' problems have certainly something to do with this point and future projects should avoid such shortcomings. In sparsely populated areas, the local population's involvement is not an easy task, and the administrative staff has to be motivated to try again and again to reach the project's goals. But a project can only survive if the public support is secured and the management is in line with the people's potential and expectations. Local people's involvement seems to be especially crucial where changes of the total life-style of the people are necessary to reach the project goals. It seems to be significant that a sufficient integration of people into the structure of the project could be reported very seldom. The interest of most participants remained passive; full-hearted participation has not been accomplished. People did not talk about "their" project and they did not identify themselves with the management's intentions. They felt as if they were objects of a "government project," not subjects of a development process. Some reports point to a tendency of the members to oppose management decisions rather than to participate in a joint decisionmaking process. Where savings could be accumulated, they were usually not invested in the project, but used for activities or consumption in other sectors of the economy.
In general, the analysis indicates that local people's involvement has to become a major concern of future planning or more projects are bound to fail. One concept of ''integrated rural development"-not planning for the people, but planning With the people-definitely needs acceptance as a training component of planners. Training courses for arid land management should therefore devote equal time to basic knowledge and the techniques of production on the one hand, and to means of motivating and organizing the active participation of the population on the other.