Why is transformation needed in this program area?

Irrigation has tremendous potential to transform smallholder agriculture by stabilizing production, improving quality of agricultural produce, reducing climatic risk on agricultural production, enabling farmers to produce multiple times in one year, and allowing diversification into high value commodities (e.g., horticulture, fisheries), which often require relatively high levels and regular application of water. Irrigation also increases the adoption of other yield enhancing inputs such as fertilizer and improved seeds because the performance of such inputs usually improves significantly with controlled moisture levels.

Ethiopia is known for its high water potential. However, the country is using a very small proportion of this potential and agricultural production continues to be mainly dependent on rainfall. With climate change, rainfall amounts and distribution are increasingly erratic in space and time, affecting agricultural production in particular and the country’s economy in general. Clearly, irrigation has the potential to transform agriculture as has been observed in other countries. For example, in Bangladesh, food produced in the irrigation season increased significantly, covering 42% of the country’s food production in 1995, while it was at only 5% in 1982. However, irrigation development affects the natural resource base and must therefore be undertaken with care if agricultural transformation is to be sustainable. It should be accompanied by appropriate drainage and land management as well as water use efficiency and, where feasible, the use of renewable energy for water lifting.

In recognition to the importance of the irrigation and drainage promotion, the government of Ethiopia is following the policy of “accessing at least one water source option at household level” and is giving emphasis on the promotion of different irrigation and drainage technologies to enhance the capacity of farming households to adapt to climate change.

What are the objectives of this program area during GTP II?

With the vision of creating a vibrant irrigation and drainage sub-sector in which farmers and agro pastoralists have access to irrigation water sources for sustainable irrigation development, during GTP II, this program area has two key objectives: (1) to identify water resources potential and promote sustainable and gender responsive irrigation development, and (2) to strengthen services for irrigation and drainage development and supply chains for related technologies to enhance farmers’ ability to expand irrigated agriculture.

What are the focus areas of this program?

Regarding the identification of water resources potential and promotion of sustainable irrigation development, the major focus areas are as follows: (1) The identification of water resources and their potential for irrigation, (2) The development of national irrigation and drainage information management systems, (3)Establishing a development fund for small-scale irrigation and related drainage, (4) Developing new, comprehensive guidelines for the study, design, and construction of irrigation and drainage facilities addressing enforceability, standardization, appropriate social and environmental safeguards, mechanisms for quality control and contract management, and (5) Establishing and strengthening the capacity of water user institutions, addressing needs such as the sustainable use of irrigation water, proper drainage, the maintenance of infrastructure, equitable water sharing and the engagement of women in decision-making.

The objective of strengthening services for irrigation and drainage development and supply chains has the following focus areas: (1) Strengthening and streamlining supply chains for irrigation technologies/inputs and services, (2) The identification and promotion (to both male and female farmers) of improved irrigation water management practices and technologies, (3) strengthening existing and promoting new irrigation supply chain businesses, (4) Improving and streamlining taxation (particularly import duties) related to important irrigation/drainage equipment, and (5) The promotion of innovative environmentally and women friendly technologies for irrigation water management.