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Recommendations of the Working Groups

Working Group I
Working Group II
Working Group III

Working Group I


Low cost technology for individual farmers or small groups of farmers. (What can be done and by whom, to increase the availability of low-cost irrigation equipment to smallholder farmers)


A.E. Daka, Zambia


C.P. Mzembe, Malawi

A.P. Savva, FAO, SAFR

R. Purcell, IPTRID

F. Gadelle, IPTRID

Resource Person:

E. Perry, USA

Members of the Group:

P.C. Moffat, Ministry of Agriculture, Botswana

M. Woldeyohannes, Ministry of Agriculture, Eritrea

T. Mekonnen, ESRDF, Ethiopia

M. Sonou, FAO, RAF

M.K. Gakundi, SISDO, Kenya

L.A. Arao, consultant, Kenya

H. Blank, IIMI, Kenya

H.K. Mwathe, Ministry of Agriculture, Kenya

A.T. Khonje, Department of Irrigation, Malawi

M. Mangueze, Dept. of Agr. Hydraulics, Mozambique

R. Mtileni, South Africa

G.M. Kalinga, Ministry of Agriculture, Tanzania

J.M. Ogwang, Ministry of Agriculture, Uganda

S. Masarira, Ministry of Agriculture, Zimbabwe

S. Hungwe, ZFU, Zimbabwe

General set of recommendations

· Need to enhance access to water resources for farmers through programmes of water resources and irrigation development.

· Need for testing and marketing devices and irrigation systems.

· Need to improve mechanisms for credit provision.

· Need to develop appropriate legal framework to ensure land security of smallholders.

· Need to enhance extension and technical support services in irrigation.

· Need to enhance research and development and information exchange within the sub-region and among extension and research services.

· Need to develop marketing support which should include agro-processing.

· Within this general framework, there is a need for national capacity building which should emphasize on-the-job training; as such it should focus more on the private sector and NGOs.

· Need to enhance market information systems for farmers.

· Need for irrigation programmes at national universities and colleges.

· Within this framework of recommendations, responsibility for services should gradually be shifted from government to the private sector and NGOs. This responsibility applies especially to equipment provision, design construction and training in operation and maintenance (O&M). There is a need to strengthen the governments' capacity in other areas, such as planning and supervision of design and construction, through public investment programmes. Also, within this framework, there is a need to pay more attention to the role of women in irrigation and to consider the impact of irrigation development on the environment.

Suggested innovative programmes

1. Based on experiences in Africa and elsewhere, introduction of joint private sector and government programmes for proven manual drilling technologies, well development and water lifting, focusing on field testing (where necessary), training and commercialization. Programmes for awareness building among, and participation of, beneficiaries will also be included. The programme should be limited to shallow aquifers and surface water.

2. A similar programme, also focusing on the smallholder, to promote uptake of low-cost mechanized well drilling, pumping and on-farm irrigation systems.

3. A review of existing funding and credit mechanisms for low-cost technology, small-scale irrigation development, both private and public, along with an examination of how success elsewhere might be transferred to the countries of the region.

4. Programmes to strengthen private and public national capacity in planning, design, construction, O&M and monitoring, starting with a needs assessment and a strong on-the-job training component.

5. As part of an on-going development effort, a pilot project to evaluate alternative extension service models emphasizing farmer participation in deciding what kind of extension they need, where and how it can be obtained.

6. Enhance the capacity of national committees of ICID to network, exchange experiences and conduct research in smallholder irrigation.

7. Programmes to develop market information systems as part of extension services, drawing on examples of Zimbabwe, Mali and other countries, where these are in place and effective.

8. Strengthening the irrigation component of existing agricultural engineering programmes through short courses, exchanges and "research" grants.

Working Group II


Local manufacture, supply and technical services and demonstration of irrigation technologies


R.J. Chitsiko, Zimbabwe


H. Wolter, FAO, Rome

G. Cornish, H.R. Wallingford, UK

Resource Person:

M. de Lange, consultant, South Africa

Members of the Group:

W. Zhou, manufacturer, China

C. R. Shanmughasundaram, manufacturer, India

M. Fisher, Approtec, Kenya

R.N. Patel, manufacturer, Malawi

L. Hugo, Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Rural

Development, Namibia

F. Koegelenberg, manufacturer, South Africa

J.B. Kalule-Sewali, Ministry of Agriculture, Uganda

L. Egan, IDE, USA

E. Chidenga, Agritex, Ministry of Agriculture, Zimbabwe

A. Sezanje, University of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe

F. Taka, Ministry of Agriculture, Zimbabwe

C. Kamuti, Ministry of Agriculture, Zimbabwe

N. Moyo, ICFU, Zimbabwe

Evidence from Southern and Eastern African countries shows that smallholder irrigation can make a contribution towards poverty alleviation, food security and the national economy. Consequently, it is recommended that governments in this region reconsider the importance of smallholder irrigation. There is need to formulate a comprehensive strategy to promote small-scale irrigation, including the accessibility of appropriate and affordable technology. Such a strategy should include the following components:

· Review existing regulations and policies that influence small-scale irrigation.
· Define the role of government institutions, private sector and NGOs.
· Assessment of technology needs among smallholder farmers.
· Widening the knowledge base with regard to:

- Use of technologies
- Design of systems
- Design and manufacturing of equipment
- Marketing

· Promote local manufacturing of equipment complemented by imports when necessary.
· Improvement of local infrastructure, specifically relating to roads and energy supply.

International organizations and donors can assist governments of the sub-region in the formulation of policies and necessary action with respect to the following issues:

Issues and suggested action

Regulations and policies affecting small-scale irrigation

· Review administrative regulations and restrictions on marketing and trading of irrigation equipment.

· Review import duty and tax structures, including import duties on raw materials, machine tools and irrigation equipment, reduced VAT and other purchase taxes.

· Simplify administrative procedures for funding of joint ventures.

· Review credit facilities available to smallholders.

Role of government institutions, private sector and NGOs

Wherever possible, the private sector and NGOs should be encouraged to lead in promoting the adoption of improved irrigation technologies by small farmers. This involvement of the private sector and NGOs will also include provision of services for the repair and maintenance of equipment and agricultural input supply. However, it is recognized that governments must play an active part in the identification and development of appropriate technologies and in the wider issues of rural infrastructural development.

Technology needs assessment

In view of the initial small size of the market, governments will have to lead in assessing the needs and opportunities for improved smallholder irrigation technologies.

Widening the knowledge base

Improving farmer knowledge

· Mobile, on-farm and permanent demonstrations with government and private sector cooperation.
· Train and deploy irrigation advisers.

Knowledge for design

· Training technicians in irrigation equipment and system design to work in both private and public sectors.

· Review existing design norms/criteria and modify with the aim to simplify and reduce costs of small-scale systems.

· Ensure that schemes are designed for operation and management by the users.

Knowledge to market products

· Promote the concepts of rural marketing through private sector and NGO initiatives.

Financial incentives

Encourage local manufacturers, joint venture and foreign investors through:

· tax incentives;
· provision of services - warehousing, building sites and connection of services;
· guaranteed repatriation of profits;
· simplified administrative procedures.

Standards and certification

Encourage voluntary submission of products for certification and verification of design characteristics.

Rural infrastructure

Improve of rural infrastructure and in particular roads, as a prerequisite to wide scale adoption of irrigation technologies by small farmers. Equally, access to affordable and reliable energy sources is essential for mechanized technologies.

Working Group III


Appropriate technologies for communal water development and water conservation (What can be done to improve access to water and to promote cost-efficient water development technologies)


N. Tafesse, Ethiopia


A. Kandiah, FAO Rome

R. Florin, FAO Rome

Resource Person:

R.K. Sivanappan, India

Members of the Group:

A. Wolde Amanuel, Ministry of Agriculture, Ethiopia

H. Gesesa, NGO, Ethiopia

A. Wakie, ESRDF, Ethiopia

C.J. Lovel, ODA

R.L. Daluti, Ministry of Agriculture, Tanzania

H.M. Mwanza, MAFF, Zambia

J. Phakati, KATC, Zambia

R. Siziba, Ministry of Agriculture, Zimbabwe

P.R. Ndlovu, Ministry of Agriculture, Zimbabwe

A. Mondiwa, CARE, Zimbabwe

J. Kwadamba, Farming News, Zimbabwe

In areas where rainfall is unreliable, or where there are no perennial sources of surface water or shallow groundwater, there is need for harvesting excess rainfall, surface runoff and stream flow. This harvesting can be done by constructing various water harvesting structures and by implementing water conservation measures to promote irrigation. Even in areas where there are perennial water sources, there is need to develop small water storage, water diversion and water pumping methods to promote irrigated agriculture. To make such small-scale water projects sustainable, there is need for a simultaneous programme to undertake watershed management and protection. Such programmes should be aimed at controlling erosion and runoff, increase groundwater recharge and preserve the watershed eco-system. All these activities are beyond the capacity or means of individual farmers, but should be undertaken by communities with appropriate investment and support by governments and ESAs and the involvement of NGOs and private sector.


The Working Group identified four major areas that require consideration; namely:

· appropriate and cost-effective technologies;
· policies, planning and resource mobilization;
· national capacity building including training;
· watershed management and environmental protection.

In each of the above areas, a number of issues were identified as illustrated in the following table.

Appropriate technologies for communal water development and water conservation

Technology and Cost

Planning, Policy and Resources Mobilization

Capacity Building and Training

Watershed Management and Environment

Low cost technology for micro-dams and river diversion

Availability of data for planning and monitoring

Technical training of farmers, technicians and extension workers, demonstrations and promotion

Soil and water conservation technologies

Rehabilitation of existing small-scale irrigation schemes, water points, dams including traditional schemes

Planning process, including stakeholders participation and sustainability issues

Enhancing national capacity in identification planning, design and construction

Planning and development on watershed basis

Other issues:

Mobilization of local and external resources


Training for promotion of participatory approach


Policies on upstream and downstream beneficiaries



* Shallow wells including water abstraction from river beds

* Equipment for land development

* Water transport

* River pumping for sprinkler and drips


Other issues,


Promotion of community involvement in watershed management



* Resettlement

* Compensation issues

* Land and water user rights

On the basis of the issues identified, the following action oriented recommendations were formulated.

Action oriented recommendations

To promote appropriate and cost-effective technologies

1. Prepare manuals on simple design and standards for micro-dam and river diversion structures including:

· site selection;
· design parameters;
· operation and maintenance; and
· on-farm water management.

Action to be initiated by appropriate government departments and implemented with support from ESAs, NGOs and other stakeholders.

2. Promote local manufacture of equipment for small-scale irrigation construction, such as improved manual, animal drawn and tractor powered compactors, transport carts, scrapers and scoops.

This recommendation is directed to NGOs and the private sector.

3. Assess performance and status of existing small-scale irrigation schemes, water points, dams and traditional schemes and recommend action to improve their performance, rehabilitate infrastructure and restructure the management system.

This action is to be undertaken by appropriate government departments in association with farmer participation.

To formulate policies, develop plans and mobilize resources

1. Select representative watersheds, assess existing data and, where necessary, equip such watersheds with instruments and measuring devices to generate complete agro-hydrological data that are required for proper design of micro-dams, water diversions, water and soil conservation structures, etc.

This action is to be initiated by appropriate government departments with support from ESAs.

2. Incorporate, early in the planning and project design phases, provisions to monitor surface and groundwater quantity and quality changes and other associated environmental impacts in small-scale irrigation projects.

This action is to be undertaken by government departments in association with NGOs and ESAs.

3. Create awareness of various technological options for small-scale irrigation development to stakeholders, with particular reference to farmers. This could be achieved by demonstrations and mass media use.

This action should be initiated by government departments in collaboration with NGOs and the private sector with assistance from ESAs.

4. Initiate studies on rapid assessment of shallow groundwater potential and technologies for well construction.

Action to be taken by relevant government departments with donor support.

5. Undertake studies on the relative roles of labour and machinery in small-scale irrigation construction in the context of cost reduction, employment generation, availability of labour and related socio-economic factors.

Action to be taken by government departments.

6. Provide incentives such as provision of credit, easy access to inputs and legal recognition, to farmers to organize themselves into farmer organizations.

Action to be taken by governments.

To build national capacity, including training

1. Provide in-service training to technicians and extension agents on construction, maintenance, operation of micro-dams and river diversions, well construction, on-farm water management and watershed management.

Action by governments in collaboration with international donors and NGOs.

2. Train farmers in construction of micro-dams and river diversion structures and on-farm water management through in-situ demonstration. The training would be carried out by extension agents (who had previously undergone training).

Action by governments, donors and NGOs.

3. Organize specialized training for engineers, graduates, national consultants and contractors on planning, design, site selection and construction of micro-dams and river diversion structures through TCDC and other appropriate mechanisms. Such training could be conducted in the countries of trainees and/or in countries where the expertise and experience exist.

Action by governments, in close collaboration with donors and close connection with TCDC governments.

4. Implement training programmes to promote the participatory approach to small-scale irrigation development through well planned and short duration (2-3 days) workshops for stakeholders (local administrators, planners, engineers, agronomists, extension agents, farmers, rural community representatives and local NGOs).

Action to be taken by national governments with the support of donors and NGOs.

To undertake watershed management and environmental protection measures

1. Develop policy guidelines that would enable watersheds to be considered as basic units for planning soil and water conservation activities and development of small-scale irrigation projects.

Action to be taken by governments in collaboration with NGOs and ESAs.

2. Prepare manuals on soil and water conservation and water harvesting techniques and practices that are applicable to local conditions for use by extension agents, technicians, farmers and participating communities.

Action to be undertaken by governments in collaboration with NGOs and ESAs.

3. Initiate pilot projects to evaluate options of incentives and other mechanisms that ensure equity of benefits to up-steam and down-stream communities;

Action to be initiated by governments in collaboration -with communities, NGOs and ESAs.

4. Create awareness of environmental impacts of watershed development to communities through campaigns and mass media programmes, thereby promoting community involvement in watershed protection measures that are directed towards the control of erosion, siltation, deforestation, overgrazing and water-borne diseases.

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