Is Small Better? A Comparison of the Effect of Large and Small Dams on Cropland Productivity in South Africa

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Abstract

We estimate and compare the effects of small and large irrigation dams on cropland productivity in South Africa. To this end, we construct a panel data set of South African river basins. The econometric analysis reveals that although large dams increase cropland productivity downstream, they have a negative effect on cropland within the vicinity. However, their existence can enhance the relatively small positive impact of local small dams. Although a cost-benefit analysis of irrigation benefits shows that small dams may be more viable than large ones, large dams can play a potentially important role within a system of both types of dams.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)545-576
JournalThe World Bank Economic Review
Volume28
Issue number3
Early online date10 Sep 2013
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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