Influence of members participation on performance of irrigation projects in Meru central district, Kenya
In Kenya, the cycle of funding of irrigation projects followed by collapse or gross underperformance soon after donors and development partners pull out such as in Bura irrigation scheme, Kibwezi, Mitunguu and Ciambaraga raises concerns both locally and internationally. This means that irrigation projects are not making their due contribution to the economy at local and national level and irrigated agricultural production is not meeting the stipulated target in growth of Gross Domestic Product. Even though it is generally thought that agricultural projects perform better when the targeted primary beneficiaries are involved in all stages of the project, empirical evidence particularly for irrigation projects is not readily available. Therefore the purpose of this study was to assess the influence of members participation on the performance of an irrigation project in Meru Central District, Kenya. The study employed a descriptive survey research design targeting 907 registered members of the 3 members managed Irrigation Projects, 15 executive management committee members and 10 ministry of water and irrigation officials in the District. A random sample of 269 registered project members was selected from the 907 members of the three irrigation projects in Meru Central District. Primary data was collected using questionnaires and interview guides. The study found that members’ participation in selection of management had the greatest influence on the performance of an irrigation project in Meru Central District (r = 0.984) followed by members’ participation in designing (r = 0.943), then members’ participation in monitoring and evaluation (r = 0.846), members’ participation in project identification (r = 0.762) while members’ participation in implementation had the least effect (r = 0.674). The study concludes that project identification, implementation, monitoring and evaluation, selection of management and designing at both 1% and 5% level of significance explain about 60.1% of the variations in performance of irrigation projects in Meru Central District. The study recommends that participation of members in irrigation projects should be encouraged to enhance capacity to perceive their own needs. Through participation, local people identify their needs as well as the relevant goals of a program.