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Is Irrigation Rehabilitation Good for Poor Farmers? An Impact Evaluation of a Non-Experimental Irrigation Project in Peru


  • Ximena V. Del Carpio,

  • Norman Loayza,

  • Gayatri Datar

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    •  Ximena V. Del Carpio and Norman Loayza are with The World Bank, Washington, DC, USA. E-mail: for correspondence. Gayatri Datar is with Dalberg Global Development Advisors, Washington, DC. At the time this paper was written, Datar and Del Carpio were affiliated with the Independent Evaluations Group (IEG) of the World Bank. We are thankful to Deither Beuermann, Brian Blankespoor, Gustavo Gutierrez, Irene Jillson, Kristian Lopez, Pamela Velez-Vega and Tomoko Wada for various contributions. We are most indebted to Maximo Torero for his excellent ideas and overall guidance in rewriting this paper. We are also thankful to Javier Baez, Kenneth Chomitz, Elisabeth Sadoulet, Mark Sundberg, Andrew Warner and participants at the ‘Evaluating the Impact of Agricultural Projects’ conference at the Inter-American Development Bank and Impact Evaluation Conference in Cairo (NONIE) for excellent ideas on previous versions of this paper. We owe special recognition to the World Bank team that implemented this work and the project team at PSI (Peruvian Irrigation Subsector Project) in Peru for invaluable inputs throughout the process. Lastly, we would like to thank the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the Independent Evaluation Group at the World Bank for financial support. All errors and omissions are our own.


This paper analyses the effect of a set of irrigation rehabilitation projects conducted over the last 10 years in Peru. The projects were conducted without the aim or the tools for a full-fledged impact evaluation. Nevertheless, this paper attempts an evaluation through the use of alternative data sources such as household surveys and geographic information, a strategy of identification of beneficiaries and control households based on spatial proximity to the projects’ sites, and an econometric approach consisting of a double-differencing technique. The empirical analysis is guided and interpreted with the help of a theoretical model that considers the effects of an irrigation project on the distribution of production, employment and income for different types of landowners. The paper concludes that the irrigation projects implemented in Peru had a positive impact on intended beneficiary households, but not in the way it could have been simplistically expected. The project did benefit the poor but not by increasing production in their own small plots but by providing them with better employment opportunities in larger farms.

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