AUSTRALIAN COMPANY SMEC has concluded negotiations for a major irrigation rehabilitation project in East Timor. The World Bank has commissioned the company to undertake a feasibility study for the Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture on the rehabilitation of four irrigation schemes: Seical Up, Maliana l, Uatulari and Caraulun.

The US$380,000 study is expected to last six months. All field work must be finished by November when the monsoon season usually begins.

Feasibility analysis will include assessment of the existing physical and socio-economic situation; topographic surveys to establish the present physical status in the field; hydrological and geotechnical investigations; and detailed design and preparation of tender documents for major structures such as weirs and irrigation channels.

There are about 50 irrigation schemes in East Timor. Most are in poor condition due to a lack of maintenance and damage during recent unrest.