Lower Usuthu Smallholder Irrigation Project (LUSIP), Swaziland



The objective of this long-term (2004-11) project was to reduce poverty and improve the standard of living of the population in the Lower Usuthu Basin in central Swaziland. The area is one of the poorest in the country with an average per capita income of €130 pa compared to a country average of €317 pa.

The major constraint for the development of the area was a lack of irrigation water, as dry season run-off river flows were fully allocated to existing irrigators. Ecorys co-ordinated the efforts of the overall project, which was large (in excess of $120m US$) and complex, with several financiers including IFAD, ADB, DBSA, ICDF, BADEA, and EIB. The implementation contained mixed teams of experts arranged across 9 consulting contracts.

Consulting inputs were arranged into several themes including the PMU component, a detailed engineering design and construction supervision component, an environmental mitigation component, agricultural development components, public health component and a resettlement component.

LUSIP provided the infrastructure for irrigation by creating an off-river reservoir (50m high RCC dam, 50km of lined canals, weir and off-take structures) that provided irrigation water for 6,500ha by the end of the project. The main direct beneficiaries of the project were 2,600 farm households (15,300 persons), whose income increased fivefold and who also had improved access to water and health facilities.