Widespread poverty persists in Tanzania where the economy is largely dependent on agriculture. Without essential knowledge and sound infrastructure, extreme weather events can severely damage harvests, causing increased unemployment, hunger and malnutrition.
From 2011 through 2018, CDM Smith provided engineering and construction services and technical assistance for USAID/Tanzania to build capacity and deliver rural road and irrigation infrastructure projects. Our team helped the Government of Tanzania identify, assess, design, procure and construct projects that enhanced agricultural production and strengthened water resources management. The project also expanded market access and ensured sustainability—ultimately providing families and communities with a foundation for more efficient, productive and profitable farming operations.
Our multi-faceted approach included rehabilitation of the 2,000-hectare (4,950-acre) Dakawa irrigation scheme, a paddy rice farm managed by a cooperative of small-scale farmers. By upgrading and developing infrastructure, CDM Smith delivered a unified and integrated rehabilitation project as a quality model for other irrigation projects. The project team:
- Improved water delivery for higher crop yields, which strengthened local economies;
- Decreased costs for farmers by providing water flow control; and,
- Achieved sustainable improvements by mitigating environmental and social impacts.
To advance USAID’s objectives for economic growth through expanded rice production, CDM Smith completed feasibility studies for four proposed irrigation schemes in Kilombero Valley, which encompasses about 69,500 people across 23 villages. CDM Smith also conducted an environmental flow assessment for the Rufiji Basin to assess water requirements of downstream communities and ecosystems, and to define the water resources that could safely be used for irrigation in the Kilombero Valley. To date, it is the most advanced and comprehensive assessment of its kind in Tanzania. CDM Smith developed innovative processes and tools for long-term planning, including customization of our Simplified Water Allocation Model, which is now being applied in Tanzania to support water allocation, permitting and planning.
CDM Smith excels at identification of problems while also offering solutions or suggested ways forward to address the issue at hand. Many of these issues carry environmental, ecological or political sensitivities to which CDM Smith has been successful in navigating while providing solid and candid technical guidance.
To maximize the benefits of the agricultural improvements, CDM Smith provided technical assistance to upgrade 390 kilometers of rural roads in Tanzania, and completed assessments and designs to build an additional 1,000 kilometers of farm-to-market roads. The project enhanced the capacity of district engineers in planning and designing roads as well as maintaining them by newly established road user associations. The project supported the Tanzanian government to upgrade rural roads and replace three dilapidated bridges in areas critical to the agriculture sector. Expanded road access improved the quality of life of area residents by increasing access to hospitals, schools and drinking water, and decreasing transportation costs. According to an independent evaluation conducted for USAID/Tanzania, activities supporting rural road development and labor-based maintenance had a measurable impact on the lives of more than 402,000 Tanzanians.
As Chief of Party for nearly the entire duration of the 7.5-year program, I had the extraordinary opportunity to lead a team of talented professionals from around the world and witness how our work ultimately benefited communities as intended by USAID and Tanzania.