It was refreshing to read about the World Commission on Dams report Dams and development (NCE 8 February).
I cannot agree, however, with Chris Perry when he describes local storage as ineffectual and unreliable. From my experience in Africa informal small irrigation schemes help the poor far more than large schemes.
There is input from peasant farmers in design, building and maintenance and the schemes supplement ancient dry farming methods, rather than replace them. Also, small dams do not incur crippling debt which forces farmers to grow cash crops at the expense of staple food crops.
Any environmental problems, such as salinity, can be monitored and halted and no re-location is necessary. Small schemes can be enlarged slowly in line with demand and farmers empowered to control their own co-operative banking and marketing.
Such small schemes can be fully integrated with other aspects of rural development.
Eddie James (M), 21 Sledgate, Rillington, Malton, N Yorks Y017 8JR