Despite good intentions
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In the contemporary context of privatization of development, many development projects that make use of the private sector as agents of development, rather than states or international organizations, are currently blossoming. Typically, the goal of such projects is to favor both the development of the country in question, often focusing on a specific community, and furthermore benefit the private sector. The injection of private capital allows for ambitious projects that entail huge potential development opportunities for the intended beneficiaries. This thesis examines such a project, which aims to provide smallholders in the Kafue district of Zambia with irrigation, whilst simultaneously yielding profit to the private sector through commercial farming activities. Smallholder access to irrigation is projected to yield many benefits within this district. These benefits include increased agricultural productivity and resilience to external shocks, thereby improving smallholders’ livelihoods and allowing them to escape from the cycle of poverty in which they have found themselves trapped. However, previous studies have shown that projected benefits of irrigation are not always reflected in reality. Furthermore, it is expected that unintentional, adverse effects may arise, such as displacement and a decrease in access to land for local smallholders. Smallholders that are examined in this research are categorized as followed. The first group comprises of the beneficiaries of the project, which are those smallholders who have been selected to gain access to irrigation. Another group comprises of those beneficiaries who were resettled, in order to yield space for commercial farming activities. Lastly, those excluded from the project and thereby excluded from access to irrigation, are examined. The various benefits and adverse effects within and between groups are compared. The goal of the research is to discern whether project is indeed an overall development opportunity for local smallholders, or whether adverse effects outweigh the experienced benefits. Results of the research are based on twelve interviews and ninety-eight surveys held amongst all categories of smallholders. It is found that, though initial intentions may have been good, the project is lacking in many ways. The projected benefits of irrigation for smallholder beneficiaries have failed to manifest themselves sufficiently ten years after implementation of the project. Many smallholders find that adverse effects of the project affect their livelihoods negatively. This is most prominent within the group of smallholders who left their homes to allow for the implementation of the project. Exclusion of smallholders from the project may result in increased local inequality. Furthermore, the distribution of financial benefits is found to be unequally distributed, skewed towards the private sector. It is strongly recommended that lessons learned from this project are exposed, to both contribute to literature examining land acquisition deals and irrigation projects, and to be integrated into policies surrounding this project and others of a similar nature.