Digging, damming or diverting?: small-scale irrigation in the Blue Nile Basin, Ethiopia uri icon


  • The diversity of small-scale irrigation in the Ethiopian Blue Nile basin comprises small dams, wells, ponds and river diversion. The diversity of irrigation infrastructure is partly a consequence of the topographic heterogeneity of the Fogera plains. Despite similar social-political conditions and the same administrative framework, irrigation facilities are established, used and managed differently, ranging from informal arrangements of households and apos;water fathersapos; to water user associations, as well as from open access to irrigation schedules. Fogera belongs to Ethiopian landscapes that will soon transform as a consequence of large dams and huge irrigation schemes. Property rights to land and water are negotiated among a variety of old and new actors. This study, based on ethnographic, hydrological and survey data, synthesises four case studies to analyse the current state of small-scale irrigation. It argues that all water storage options have not only certain comparative advantages but also social constraints, and supports a policy of extending water storage apos;systemsapos; that combine and build on complementarities of different storage types instead of fully replacing diversity by large dams

publication date

  • 2012