Water user TORs organization

  • Posted by: Precious Nkomo

Terms of Reference – Water User Organization Specialist 


Zimbabwe has one of the highest levels of water development for irrigation in the SADC region and has a significant portion of its irrigated potential realized. Evidence-based research has shown that households in smallholder irrigation schemes are better off in terms of food production, income, nutrition and general wellbeing than households relying on rain-fed agriculture.

One key advantage of irrigation is to raise average crop yields that substantially reduce the uncertainties farmers face in rain-fed agriculture. Smallholder irrigation schemes produce crops throughout the year, achieving up to 200 per cent cropping intensities. In addition to achieving higher yields than rain-fed yields, irrigators are able to increase crop production and incomes in the dry winter season, when dryland production is impossible because of lack of rain, thus managing risks and uncertainties.

Smallholder irrigation in Zimbabwe has been a cycle of build/operation/rehabilitate that is heavily dependent on government and donor funding. Government data indicates that about 56 per cent of the existing schemes are not functional, or partially functional, with a high proportion in Matebeleland South. A common feature is that rehabilitation has primarily focused on physical infrastructure development and repairs (or “hardware”), without the corresponding investments in farmers’ institutional development, production activities and market linkages (software). The rehabilitation is often initiated, driven and managed by the Department of Irrigation. As a result, there is a general lack of community ownership, responsibility and participation in the management of the irrigation assets.

Any scheme rehabilitation/revitalization process should encompass both the modernization of physical infrastructure with the corresponding investment to redevelop irrigation social institutions as tools for more autonomy, participation and ownership at local level, as well as the development of business strategy and market linkages to make irrigation farming more productive and profitable.

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and Government of Zimbabwe are financing the Smallholder Irrigation Revitalization Programme (SIRP). The aim of the programme is to achieve food and nutrition security, and ensure that smallholder communities are resilient to climate change effects and economic shocks by enhancing house-holds production, productivity and income levels as well as improving access to agricultural markets and financial services. To achieve this SIRP will focus on:

(i) rehabilitation of irrigation infrastructure;

(ii) promotion of improved small holder irrigation management;

(iii) promotion of good agricultural practices;

(iv) improved market access and rural financial services and

(v) enhanced capacity for irrigation development and market-led production.

SIRP will revitalize about 6,100 ha of existing smallholder irrigation schemes, mostly in communal and old resettlement areas in the natural regions III, IV and V in the provinces of Manicaland, Masvingo, Matabeleland South, and Midlands.


SIRP seeks to capacitate 15,000 irrigators (in about 125 schemes, comprising of an estimated 700 Irrigation Management Committees (IMCs), to establish effective governance mechanisms, effective recovery of O&M fees, enhance social acceptability of water fee and to develop the right combination of roles, rules, norms and values that support mutually beneficial collective actions.

SIRP is therefore seeking for a well-qualified expert to propose and carryout institutional development and capacitation of intended Water User Organisations in the 125 schemes spread in the four targeted provinces of Manicaland, Masvingo, Matabeleland South and Midlands in Zimbabwe. The expert will perform the following key tasks;


The specific objectives include:

a. Analysing current smallholder irrigation scheme management scenarios prevailing in the country,

b. Carry out in-depth studies on capacity of scheme management institutions functioning in the various regions of the country with an aim to recommend improved approaches for their establishment, preferably along the lines of Water User Organisations (WUOs);

c. Using an evidence based approach, must propose and develop a suitable smallholder irrigation management model that promotes;

 Participatory planning and management of smallholder irrigation assets

 Sustainable operation and maintenance of smallholder irrigation assets

 Efficient financial and administrative management

 Sustainable smallholder irrigation water management (arrangements, water savings, conflict resolution)

d. Compile and present for validation a dialogue/strategy paper for the transformation of smallholder irrigation management institutions in Zimbabwe;

e. Provide feedback and prepare any draft legal amendments required to establish WUOs in Zimbabwe.

f. Provide feed-back on lessons learnt to the policy level through exposure visits, discussion papers and workshops;

g. Identify capacity development requirements in light of technical, financial management, and organization of the WUO/IMCs, and build their capacity using available resources;

h. Spearhead transformation of current IMCs into sustainable farmer institutions with strong emphasis on importance and creation of WUOs. Must guide the initial development of proposed (and validated) smallholder management model, including scheme management structures, constitutions, laws and by-laws and procedures for decision-making and financial management.

i. Develop, in close cooperation with the TA-irrigation engineer, practical manuals for scheme management training, O&M, processes for smallholder scheme management. All manuals to be translated into local languages;

j. Prepare for validation a draft Irrigation Management Transfer processes for the transferring of schemes to farmer organizations

k. Develop information and knowledge sharing mechanisms to promote innovation, learning and improvement amongst WUOs and WUO support. Mechanisms will include the use of internet, (regional) seminars and competition

l. Coach and guide DoI, AGRITEX staff in the day-to-day guidance and training of WUOs/IMC

m. Ensure that a practical and reliable IMC/WUO Performance Monitoring system is put in place at District, Province and National level.

n. Carryout any functions as required by the supervising authority


a) The expert shall be at least a MSc graduate in rural development (or equivalent) having not less than ten years’ experience in the field of farmer institutions, organizations, and/or water management out of which minimum of 2 years shall be in smallholder irrigation water management, and policy and agriculture development.

b) The expert must have proven track record in preparing water management strategies and policy;

c) The expert must have proven track record of at least one successful implementation of irrigation operation and management model for public irrigation projects in the region or outside the region,

d) Ability to draft and develop simple-to-use training materials and attractive brochures, guidelines and any other material to be used by IMCs;

e) Fluency in English both in technical report writing and speaking is a must.


The consultant will be required to ensure that the following outputs are delivered:

a) Study report

b) Framework for legislation of WUOs

c) Manual on management models

d) WUO manual,

e) Manual for scheme management

f) Training strategy for IMCs and IMC

g) IMC Performance Monitoring system

h) Training reports

6. Duration

The initial duration of the consultancy will be for 6 months extendable as per need

Author: Precious Nkomo