Do differences in the scale of irrigation projects generate different impacts on poverty and production?

Andrew Dillon*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


This article investigates differences in household production and consumption among small- and large-scale irrigators to assess whether the scale of an irrigation project increases household welfare in Mali. Much of the evidence of the impact of irrigation does not use counterfactual analysis to estimate such impact or distinguish between the scale of the irrigation projects to be evaluated. In the dataset collected by the author, both a large-scale irrigation project and small-scale projects are used to construct counterfactual groups. Propensity score matching is used to estimate the average treatment effect on the treated for small and large irrigators relative to non-irrigators on agricultural production, agricultural income and consumption per capita. Small-scale irrigation has a larger effect on agricultural production and agricultural income than large-scale irrigation, but large-scale irrigation has a larger effect on consumption per capita. This suggests that market integration and non-farm externalities are important in realising gains in agricultural surplus from irrigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)474-492
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Agricultural Economics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2011


  • Irrigation
  • Mali
  • Programme evaluation
  • Propensity score matching
  • Small- and large-scale impacts

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Economics and Econometrics


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