In Myanmar, the government has made a vast investment in the construction of dams to improve crop productivity and to ensure socioeconomic development. This study explores the differential impacts, in terms of socioeconomic conditions, of these investments for paddy farmers in Yedashe Township, in the Bago region in the south-central part of Myanmar. A farm survey among 95 respondents is used to compare the situation before and after the construction of a dam. It is observed that after the installation of the dam, the farmers could practice double rice cropping enabling them to gain higher income. The impact of the dam project on the employment rate, paddy yields and incomes were measured using normalized vector equations. A positive effect on all these factors was observed. The incomes of the farmers increased by benefiting from higher crop productivity, more crops per year, and more benefits over variable costs. However, the return above variable cash costs (RAVCC) and the benefit over cost (BC) ratio of head-end users was significantly higher than that of middle-reach and tail-end users. Therefore, the study additionally explored the problems of unequal water access and farmer-oriented solutions to these problems. The lack of monitoring and management of the irrigation institutions was found to be a major constraint for the development of the irrigation sector. Therefore, efficient utilisation of irrigation water by water-users, and policies as well as investments in the development of irrigation infrastructure need to be emphasised.
Key words: Irrigation dam, downscaled water users, disequilibrium, impact assessment.
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