Impact evaluation of the programme supporting development of Menabe and Melaky regions in Madagascar

Publication Details

Ring, H, Morey, M, Kavanagh, E, Kamto, K, McCarthy, N, Brubaker, J and Rakotondrafara, C, 2018. Impact evaluation of the Menabe and Melaky development programme in Madagascar, 3ie Impact Evaluation Report 74. New Delhi: International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie).

Link to Source
Hannah Ring, Mitchell Morey, Erin Cavanagh, Kevin Kamto, Nancy McCarthy, and Joshua Brubaker
Institutional affiliations
None specified
Grant-holding institution
None specified
Sub-Saharan Africa (includes East and West Africa)
Agriculture and Rural Development
Agricultural Reform, Agricultural Extension, Agro-Industry & Marketing, Agricultural Research
Gender analysis
Agricultural Reform, Agricultural Extension, Agro-Industry & Marketing, Agricultural Research
Gender analysis
Equity Focus
None specified
Evaluation design
Propensity Score Matching (PSM), Mixed Methods
3ie Series Report
3ie Funding Window
Agricultural Innovation Thematic Window


The study seeks to evaluate the impact of access to newly constructed or rehabilitated irrigation system in western Madagascar.The study seeks to evaluate the impact of access to newly constructed or rehabilitated irrigation system in western Madagascar.


Agriculture is the most common livelihood for people of Madagascar, employing 75.3 percent of the rural population and accounting for 28.2 percent of the country’s GDP.  The Projet d’Appui au Développement du Menabe et du Melaky (AD2M) implemented irrigation, land titling, and related rural development programmes in 19 communes (a grouping of villages) in western Madagascar.

The AD2M project sought to improve the wellbeing of marginalised farmers facing individual and environmental constraints by implementing a multi-faceted programme that addressed land tenure security, agricultural production techniques and sustainable land and water management practices including expanded access to irrigation, market infrastructure and transportation.

Research questions

  • Does access to certificate and irrigated land increase rice yields, total value of irrigated crop production, net revenue from crops and value of crops marketed?
  • Does access to certificated and irrigated land enable farmers to increase the number of cropping seasons within the year and lead to crop diversification?
  • Did project activities lead to an increase in the adoption of sustainable land management practices at the community and household level?
  • Given the importance of well-functioning Water Users Associations (WUA) in maintaining irrigation infrastructure and regulating water use, do measures of WUA performance affect the extent to which farmers could realise benefits from their irrigated plots?


Intervention design

The intervention comprises of two components to address land tenure security and increased and sustained income from agriculture. The first component included activities directly related to local land governance and tenure security. The second component focused on promotion of technologies and practices to increase agricultural production, including increasing access to irrigation and finance, introduction of new seed varieties, promotion of cash crops, increasing access to agricultural equipment and increasing access to markets through road construction waterway infrastructure, and microfinance kiosks. 

Theory of change

The evaluation focused on the household-level outcomes and impacts from access to certificated irrigation land. Information collected on other project activities were used to account for regional variation in other AD2M interventions. The theory of change for this intervention is predicated on the belief that concrete changes in infrastructure and local capacity can change farmer use of their lands and improve their productivity, leading to eventual positive impact on yields, farmer income, and the use of sustainable land management practices.

With the provision of activities such as: the provision of new and reliable irrigation facilities, demonstration plots for farmers on sustainable land management, construction of rural roads and market infrastructures, and development of communal land use maps; productive outcomes can be achieved for smallholder farmers. Outcomes of interest include: increased farmer investment in sustainable land management practices, intensification of land use during the 2nd and 3rd cropping seasons, diversification of household income and farm produce, and increases in marketable surplus; which will lead to positive impacts on land use, yields, and farmer income. 

Evaluation design

The evaluation will follow a quasi-experimental approach using propensity score matching. A sample of beneficiary households from 14 out of the 16 irrigated communes of Menabe region will be randomly selected.

The evaluation will replicate the targeting process that was used back in 2007 to identify beneficiaries using the same or similar historic data sources. This would be a combination of observation-based and criteria-based targeting as proposed by Ouma et al. (2007). Observation-based targeting will involve determining where the AD2M programme was adopted, plotting those sites on a map and identifying the common characteristics that the sites share. This information will then be used to determine a group of potential non-programme areas that had characteristics similar to AD2M areas before the programme started. 

A survey of 666 treatment and 1334 comparison rural farm households will be conducted to collect key information and map out the causal chain across inputs, activities, outputs, outcomes, and impacts as well as the underlying assumptions.

Main findings

Overall, improvements were seen in the agricultural productivity of AD2M project beneficiaries. Annual rice yields and total value of crop production were estimated to be 25 percent and 16 percent respectively greater for AD2M beneficiaries as compared to the control group. The value of crop production per capital increased by 13.6 percent amongst AD2M beneficiaries. Additionally, non-monetary measures of household welfare improved, as beneficiary households worried about food 10.3 percent less often per week than those without access to AD2M. AD2M was also effective in improving the delivery of water, making farmers 15 percentage points more likely to report receiving their water on time, and 26 percentage points more likely to report that their irrigated water was of good quality. 

Qualitative data confirmed that AD2M introduced and encouraged farmers to grow new crops, while focus group discussions reiterated that many farmers now believe that adoption of multi-cropping practices improves soil quality. 

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