Topic Guide: Irrigation infrastructure for sustainable and improved agricultural productivity

This guide is an overview of current thinking on investments in irrigated agriculture that are responsive to the needs of rural communities

Abstract

This guide aims to provide basic information and stimulate thinking about:

  1. irrigated agricultural systems and interventions to achieve sustainable increases in agricultural productivity

  2. how interventions in irrigation infrastructure and services can be designed and implemented to provide foundations for sustainable agricultural productivity and poverty reduction.

The guide focuses on sub Saharan Africa (SSA), and provides an overview of current thinking on how to identify and implement investments in irrigated agriculture that are robust and responsive to the needs of evolving rural communities.

Chapter 1 describes what irrigation is, and its importance globally. It examines the need for increased investment in improved and optimised agricultural water management in the region, the importance of learning from past mistakes, and understanding the complexity of irrigated agriculture, and not just the technicalities of designing, building, and operating irrigation systems.

Chapter 2 introduces the development context in which investments in irrigated agriculture take place in SSA. The evolving rural demographics, rural-urban migration, and climate change make it essential that the renewed interest in irrigation by national governments and development agencies results in better outcomes for rural poor and more sustainable irrigated agricultural systems.

Chapter 3 describes the main characteristics of irrigation systems from water source to the farmers’ fields, including infrastructure and institutional arrangements with a focus on smallholder agriculture in SSA.

Chapter 4 addresses the question of what technologies to use on-farm, including brief summaries of the advantages and disadvantages of common technologies.

Chapter 5 explores what institutional and regulatory frameworks are necessary to support sustainable increases in agricultural productivity and effective management of land and water resources. Irrigation depends on implementing a number of inter-related functions, carried out by various parties, often with different interests.

Chapter 6 offers direction to answer the question – how to develop successful irrigation. In general irrigation development, rehabilitation or modernisation of existing irrigation systems involves a wider range of interventions than “just fixing the infrastructure”. This chapter includes checklists to assist task managers to navigate the design and implementation of an investment program in irrigated agriculture.

Chapter 7 gives the top 5 reads on irrigation.

Citation

Makin, I.W. Topic Guide: Irrigation infrastructure for sustainable and improved agricultural productivity. Evidence on Demand, UK (2016), vi, 56p

Topic Guide: Irrigation infrastructure for sustainable and improved agricultural productivity

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