Assessment of surface water irrigation potential in the Ethiopian highlands: The Lake Tana Basin uri icon

abstract

  • Although Ethiopia has a large potential to develop surface irrigation, only 5% of the 30 to 70 million hectares (ha) potentially available has been developed. To examine the underlying causes of this lack of irrigation development, this study evaluates the suitability of surface water irrigation for the Lake Tana Basin development corridor. Surface water availability and land potentially suitable for irrigation development were considered. Surface water potential was examined by analyzing long-term daily historical river discharges. Land suitable for irrigation was determined with a GIS-based multi-criteria evaluation, which considers the interaction of various factors such as climate, river proximity, soil type, land cover, topography/slope, and market outlets. The results indicate that nearly 20% of the Lake Tana Basin is suitable for surface irrigation. However, after analyzing 27 years of river discharge, less than 3% of the potential irrigable area (or less than 0.25% of the basin area) could be irrigated consistently with runoff from the river systems. Thus, the irrigation potential in the Lake Tana Basin can be met by increasing dry season flows, by improving upland infiltration, by supplying water from reservoirs, or by pumping water directly from Lake Tana. Published by Elsevier B.V.

publication date

  • 2015
  • 2015