Much has been written in recent years on the problem of increasing desertification of arid lands. One of the major alternatives available for increasing the productivity of arid lands –irrigation – has come under some criticism because of its potential adverse long-term impacts and poor performance in the past. While some of the criticisms are justified, others are imaginary and baseless. A major reason why irrigation development raises great hopes in certain quarters but is simultaneously a subject of despair in others results from the paucity of regular monitoring and evaluation of irrigated agriculture projects (Biswas, 1985). Without regular evaluations, it is not possible to make any definitive statements. Therefore biases tend to be perpetuated or even accentuated.
By Asit K. Biswas, 1988. Article published in Desertification Control Bulletin, No. 16, Pages 7-12.