Drip Irrigation in Developing CountriesDrip irrigation is the process of dripping water onto soils at very low rates, normally through the use of thin plastic pipes with emitter fittings that serve to control the discharge of water. Drip irrigation in developing countries reduces poverty through its many advantages that include disease prevention by reducing water contact on leaves, reducing weed growth, efficiency, saving time, preventing the wastage of water, increasing crop yield and more.

On a global scale, only 5% of countries are currently implementing drip irrigation. According to estimates, the drip irrigation market is worth around $4.6 billion and forecasts suggest an increase to $9.4 billion by 2027. Countries like South Africa and Israel effectively use drip irrigation and many other developing countries have started to apply this irrigation technique. 

Israel’s Success With Drip Irrigation

The implementation of drip irrigation in Israel has mitigated the impacts of drought and climate change on agricultural production. This process boasts an efficiency rate of 95%-100%, surpassing other methods such as sprinkling by 15%. Drip irrigation plays a crucial role in reducing poverty in Israel. Innovation Africa, a nonprofit organization based in Israel, is dedicated to bringing water, solar energy and agricultural innovations to villages across Africa. Through the use of drip irrigation, a common technique employed by the organization, crop yields are increased, leading to a higher production of food and addressing issues of food scarcity. Innovation Africa has supported 3 million residents through 500 projects in 10 countries.

Developing Nations Implementing Drip Irrigation

  1. MoroccoRanked among the top 25 most water-stressed nations, the Moroccan government has implemented drip irrigation to effectively manage the country’s limited water resources. The World Bank initiated projects like PNEEI and PMV to enhance agricultural productivity and support farmers by improving their access to technology and finance. The outcomes achieved between 2010 and 2017 were remarkable. Around 6,811 male and female farmers benefited from adopting more efficient irrigation methods, covering an area of 22,062 hectares. Additionally, 2,305 farmers implemented dip irrigation techniques. In Tadla, the volume of abstracted groundwater decreased by 43%. And in Doukkala, farms smaller than five hectares experienced a remarkable 142% increase in agricultural production. Farms ranging from five to 10 hectares saw a 67% increase, while those exceeding 10 hectares recorded an outstanding 312% increase.
  2. Ethiopia: In Ethiopia, women-headed homes are more susceptible to poor agricultural production resulting from inadequate access to water. A study based on closing this gap took place in the Kilte-Awlaelo District, covering 205 respondents. It recorded changes in household income and improvements after the introduction of small-scale irrigation. Remarkably, the results revealed that livestock income increased by 24.3% and crop production income increased by 68.8% in woman-headed households. Consequently, this enabled women to achieve financial independence, make profits and access employment opportunities that were previously not available to them.  
  3. Pakistan: On Nov. 30, 2017, the World Bank approved an additional $130 million on top of its original $250 million investment/loan to support farmers in the Punjab province of Pakistan. The project contributed to increased agricultural production, employment, pay and better living standards. Additionally, drip irrigation systems were installed on 26,000 acres and 120,000 acres with ponds to allow better rainwater harvesting and filtration systems.

Looking Ahead

Drip irrigation holds immense potential to alleviate poverty and improve agricultural productivity in developing countries. The success of countries like Israel, Morocco, Ethiopia and Pakistan in implementing drip irrigation showcases its transformative impact on water conservation, crop yield and livelihoods. As more countries recognize the benefits of this efficient irrigation technique, there is an opportunity to further alleviate poverty, increase food production and promote sustainable agricultural practices worldwide.

– Joshua Rogers
Photo: Flickr