Explanation of the criteria for classification and numbering of components K70.1.02
(DEC 00)
Explanation of the dates on the component's description



1.   Purpose and objectives

     To identify the pre-conditions of water availability, institutional support and economic opportunity which need to be met before smallholders can adopt and benefit from modern irrigation methods. Also to review the range of equipment and indicate those most suitable for use by smallholders.

2.   Description

     This report defines a smallholding as a farm, typically less than 5 ha and often very much smaller, with a mix of commercial and subsistence production, providing the principal income for a family who supply most of the labour. Also included are small commercial farms producing high-value crops for export. The discussion of irrigation methods applies both to individual farms and to smallholder schemes where water supply is shared.

     The report has seven chapters. Chapter 1 discusses the potential role of modern irrigation methods against a background of increasing water scarcity and food shortages, as in sub-Saharan Africa. The possible shortcomings of introducing technologies to improve production and income from different environments are set out. The need to learn lessons from past successes and failures is emphasized.

     In Chapter 2 various modern irrigation technologies are described and classified. The advantages and disadvantages of different systems and their suitability for use by smallholders are discussed and summarized in a Table.  Chapter 3 defines what characteristics equipment should have if it is to be used on smallholdings. These include the maintenance and operational skill requirements, as well as durability and ease of installation on small plots.

     There is a review in Chapter 4 of the experiences of smallholders in a range of economic and agro-ecological conditions. This aims to relate the characteristics of modern irrigation systems with the willingness of farmers to adopt the methods and maintain the equipment. Information from eleven countries, including Israel, India, Zimbabwe and Guatemala, is discussed and listed in detail in an appendix. The diversity of conditions helps to identify those common features which are essential in the adoption of modern technology. The potential of modern schemes in African smallholdings is examined briefly in Chapter 5.

     The last two chapters draw the study together. There is a summary of the findings, and conclusions are drawn both on the type of equipment likely to be appropriate and on wider social, economic and policy matters. There is also an outline of issues that must be addressed to promote the use of modern irrigation methods and ensure that technology can be exploited for the greatest benefit of smallholders in developing countries. The text is supported by an extensive bibliography.

3.   Input

     Not applicable.

4.   Output

     Not applicable.

5.   Operational requirements and restrictions


6.   Form of presentation

     Book of 90 pages, with 4 figures 22 tables and 2 appendices.

7.   Operational experience

     The author has wide experience of technology transfer and staff training on irrigation schemes in sub-Saharan Africa and South and Southeast Asia.

8.   Originator and technical support

     This report was commissioned by the Engineering Division of the Department for International Development, and prepared by HR Wallingford Ltd, Howbery Park, Wallingford, Oxon OX10 8BA in association with the Intermediate Technology Development Group of Intermediate Technology 

9.   Availability

     From the UK HOMS Office, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Wallingford OX10 8BB, UK. Generally for sale, but single copies available free at the discretion of the UK HOMS Office. Also available from book retailers (ISBN 1 85339 457 2).

10.  Conditions on use

     Subject to the usual laws of copyright with respect to reproduction and distribution.


(First entered:29 JAN 01

Last updated: 13 DEC 00)