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The Sao Francisco hydrographic basin comprises seven Brazilian States, representing almost 8% of the country's area, having also different landscapes and huge environmental diversity. The regions of the basin vary form those with high hydrological potentials to those with severe draughts. The irrigation projects on the Sao Francisco River Basin represent an economic growth vector to agricultural activities and agro industries. They would not reach full development under the high climatic risks that are characteristic of the semi-arid climate, which comprises major portions of the basin area. The CODEVASF Brazilian management company has 38 irrigation projects in operation, spread over 31 municipalities of the basin, 10 being implemented and another 10 subjected is viability studies. The objective of this article is to perform a multitemporal analysis, considering the influence of the projects to the economic development of the region. The methodological procedures can be described in three phases: (a) reground development analyses using the Municipal Human Development Index (MHDI) from 1970 to 2000, (b) analysis of the relations between projects implementation and the MHDI. The MHDI is based on factors like income, education and longevity. The MHDI informations were mapped in a GIS. After clustering the municipalities into the MHDI classes, there were introduced maps of the irrigation projects in operation on the basin. It is possible to state that the irrigation projects are not the only factors responsible for an increase in the MHDI in the municipalities along the basin, since all the municipalities showed an increase in the MHDI regardless the presence of the projects. However a significant growth in the MHDI is verified in those municipalities, which had irrigation projects. There is a strong correlation between the growths of the irrigation area with the MHDI. That shows the importance of the projects to the basin as well as the importance of CODEVASF as the head institution for the implementation of such initiatives.