List of Irrigation Schemes in Africa - Agrolearner.com
List of Irrigation Schemes in Africa

List of Irrigation Schemes in Africa

Irrigation schemes have played a significant role in improving agriculture and food security in Africa. With its diverse landscape and climate, Africa has implemented various irrigation schemes to meet the growing demand for food and to combat droughts.

These schemes are designed to harness and distribute water to arable lands and have been successful in increasing crop yields and farmer incomes.

In this article, we will discuss some of the notable irrigation schemes in Africa, their features, and their impact on local communities.

From the small-scale farmer-led schemes to the large-scale government-led projects, Africa’s irrigation schemes offer hope for a sustainable agricultural future.

List of Irrigation Schemes in Africa

Africa, despite its challenges in agriculture, has made significant strides in irrigation development.

Governments and stakeholders have shown a growing interest in improving agricultural activities through irrigation schemes, as a means of enhancing food security, increasing crop yields, and alleviating poverty.

Several irrigation schemes have been designed and implemented across the continent, ranging from small-scale to large-scale projects.

These schemes utilize various water sources, such as rivers, lakes, and groundwater, and employ different irrigation techniques, including drip, sprinkler, and flood irrigation.

The compiled list of irrigation schemes in Africa below has been done in 3 categories such as the government-led irrigation schemes, farmer-led irrigation schemes, and small-scale irrigation schemes.

Checkout the comprehensive list of irrigation schemes in Africa compiled below.

#1. Government-led Irrigation Schemes

Government-led irrigation schemes are those that are planned, constructed, and managed by the government. These schemes are usually large in scale and require significant investment from the government.

They are often implemented to increase agricultural productivity, improve food security, and alleviate poverty.

Here are 20 examples of government-led irrigation schemes:

  1. Gezira Scheme, Sudan
  2. Mwea Irrigation Scheme, Kenya
  3. Perimeter Irrigation Scheme, Nigeria
  4. Senegal River Valley Development Authority, Senegal
  5. Office du Niger, Mali
  6. Tono Irrigation Scheme, Ghana
  7. Komati Basin Water Authority, Swaziland
  8. Bura Irrigation Scheme, Kenya
  9. Lower Usuthu Smallholder Irrigation Project, Swaziland
  10. Moghan Irrigation and Drainage System, Ethiopia
  11. Kpong Irrigation Project, Ghana
  12. Olifants River Irrigation Scheme, South Africa
  13. Northern Lowlands Irrigation Development Project, Tanzania
  14. Lupa Irrigation Scheme, Tanzania
  15. Lower Shire Irrigation Project, Malawi
  16. Kafue Gorge Lower Hydro Power Project, Zambia
  17. Mbarali Irrigation and Rural Roads Project, Tanzania
  18. Ewaso Ng’iro North River Basin Development Authority, Kenya
  19. Lower Manyame Irrigation Development Project, Zimbabwe
  20. Jibiya Irrigation Project, Nigeria

#2. Farmer-led Irrigation Schemes

Farmer-led irrigation schemes are those that are initiated, constructed, and managed by farmers themselves.

These schemes are usually small in scale and require minimal investment. They are often implemented to increase crop production and improve livelihoods.

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Here are 19 examples of farmer-led irrigation schemes:

  1. Yatenga Small-Scale Irrigation Project, Burkina Faso
  2. Singida Rural Irrigation and Livelihood Improvement Project, Tanzania
  3. Nucleus Estate Outgrower Scheme, Nigeria
  4. Smallholder Irrigation Revitalization Programme, Zambia
  5. Zai Pits Irrigation System, Niger
  6. Community Irrigation Project, Sierra Leone
  7. Peri-Urban Agriculture and Irrigation Project, Ghana
  8. Tassa-Marka Irrigation Project, Mali
  9. Smallholder Irrigation Market Access Project, Mozambique
  10. Kijani Fund, Kenya
  11. Water Smart Agriculture Project, Ethiopia
  12. Sustainet’s Irrigation System, Uganda
  13. Gokwe North Irrigation Scheme, Zimbabwe
  14. Gash Sustainable Livelihoods Regeneration Project, Sudan
  15. Drip Irrigation Scheme, Uganda
  16. Mwamgongo Farmers Irrigation Scheme, Tanzania
  17. Off-Grid Irrigation Project, Zambia
  18. Multiple Use Water Services (MUS) Project, Malawi
  19. Furrow Irrigation System, Rwanda

#3. Small-scale Irrigation Schemes

Small-scale irrigation schemes are those that cover a relatively small area and require minimal investment. They are usually implemented by smallholder farmers and are often aimed at increasing crop production and improving food security.

Here are 20 examples of small-scale irrigation schemes:

  1. Merti Integrated Livelihood Improvement Project, Kenya
  2. Nkurenkuru Small-Scale Irrigation Scheme, Namibia
  3. Kpong Small-Scale Irrigation Project, Ghana
  4. Zambezi Valley Small-Scale Irrigation Project, Zimbabwe
  5. Saama Small-Scale Irrigation Project, Tanzania
  6. Makoka Smallholder Irrigation Project, Malawi
  7. Mhinga Small-Scale Irrigation Scheme, South Africa
  8. Matutuine Small-Scale Irrigation Scheme, Mozambique
  9. Lutte Irrigation Project, Senegal
  10. Koraro Small-Scale Irrigation Scheme, Ethiopia
  11. Chazanga Small-Scale Irrigation Scheme, Zambia
  12. Chamazi Small-Scale Irrigation Project, Tanzania
  13. Balyarta Small-Scale Irrigation Scheme, Ghana
  14. Sibidang Small-Scale Irrigation Project, Cameroon
  15. Makaleng Small-Scale Irrigation Scheme, Lesotho
  16. Kabele Small-Scale Irrigation Scheme, Uganda
  17. Tefera Small-Scale Irrigation Scheme, Eritrea
  18. Mambwe Small-Scale Irrigation Scheme, Zambia
  19. Kalo Small-Scale Irrigation Scheme, Mali
  20. Tshelanyemba Small-Scale Irrigation Scheme, Zimbabwe

Note that the classification of some schemes as government-led or farmer-led may be subjective and depend on various factors, such as the level of government involvement or the degree of farmer participation.

Importance of Irrigation Schemes in Africa

#1. Improved Agricultural Productivity

Irrigation schemes provide regular water supply to crops, which enhances their growth, yields and quality. This leads to increased agricultural productivity and improved food security.

#2. Diversification of Crops

Irrigation allows farmers to grow a wider range of crops throughout the year, regardless of the season or rainfall patterns. This enables them to diversify their income and reduce reliance on a single crop.

#3. Employment Generation

Irrigation schemes create employment opportunities both in the construction and operation of the schemes. Additionally, the increased agricultural productivity and crop diversification create more jobs along the value chain.

#4. Economic Development

Irrigation schemes can contribute to economic development in rural areas by increasing agricultural production and generating income for farmers. The increased production also leads to increased market opportunities, trade and foreign exchange earnings.

#5. Mitigation of Climate Change

Irrigation schemes help to mitigate the impact of climate change on agriculture. With unpredictable rainfall patterns, irrigation provides a stable source of water for crops, reducing the risks of crop failure.

#6. Poverty Reduction

Irrigation schemes can help to reduce poverty in rural areas by increasing agricultural productivity, creating employment opportunities, and generating income for smallholder farmers.

#7. Increased Resilience

Irrigation schemes help farmers to become more resilient to climate shocks such as droughts and floods. With regular water supply, farmers can maintain their crop yields even during periods of low rainfall.

Impact of irrigation schemes in Africa

#1. Improved Food Security

Irrigation schemes have contributed to improved food security in Africa by increasing agricultural productivity and enabling farmers to grow crops throughout the year.

#2. Increased Agricultural Productivity

Irrigation schemes have led to increased agricultural productivity by providing a reliable source of water for crops. This has also led to increased yields and better quality of crops.

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#3. Poverty Reduction

Irrigation schemes have helped to reduce poverty in rural areas by increasing agricultural productivity and generating income for smallholder farmers.

#4. Employment Generation

Irrigation schemes have created employment opportunities both in the construction and operation of the schemes. The increased agricultural productivity has also created more jobs along the value chain.

#5. Economic Development

Irrigation schemes have contributed to economic development in rural areas by increasing agricultural production, generating income for farmers, and creating market opportunities for crops.

#6. Environmental Impact

Irrigation schemes can have both positive and negative environmental impacts. While they can lead to increased agricultural productivity and biodiversity, they can also lead to waterlogging, soil salinity and depletion of groundwater.

#7. Social Impact

Irrigation schemes have social impacts such as improving access to water for domestic use, reducing the burden on women who are traditionally responsible for fetching water, and improving access to education and healthcare services.

Benefits of Irrigation Schemes in Africa

#1. Increased Agricultural Productivity

Irrigation schemes provide regular water supply to crops, leading to increased agricultural productivity and higher crop yields.

#2. Food Security

Irrigation schemes enable farmers to grow crops throughout the year, regardless of the season or rainfall patterns, leading to improved food security in the region.

#3. Employment Generation

Irrigation schemes create job opportunities for both skilled and unskilled laborers during the construction, operation and maintenance of the schemes.

#4. Income Generation

Irrigation schemes generate income for smallholder farmers by increasing agricultural productivity, diversifying their crops, and enabling them to sell their produce in local and regional markets.

#5. Economic Growth

Irrigation schemes have the potential to contribute to economic growth in Africa by increasing agricultural productivity, generating income for farmers, and creating market opportunities for crops.

#6. Improved Health

Irrigation schemes can also contribute to improved health in rural areas by providing access to clean water for domestic use, reducing the burden on women who traditionally fetch water from distant sources, and improving hygiene and sanitation practices.

#7. Climate Change Resilience

Irrigation schemes provide a stable source of water for crops, reducing the risks of crop failure during periods of drought, and helping farmers to adapt to the effects of climate change.

Challenges of Designing Irrigation Schemes in Africa

#1. Lack of Water Resources

One of the biggest challenges in designing irrigation schemes in Africa is the lack of available water resources. Many areas in Africa face water scarcity, making it difficult to sustain irrigation schemes.

#2. High Cost

The cost of designing, building and maintaining irrigation schemes can be prohibitive, especially for smallholder farmers who may not have the resources to invest in such projects.

#3. Poor Infrastructure

Poor road networks, inadequate power supply, and limited access to technology can hinder the design and implementation of irrigation schemes in Africa.

#4. Inadequate Institutional Support

The success of irrigation schemes in Africa often depends on institutional support, including government policies and regulations, and access to finance and technical support.

#5. Climate Change

Climate change has a significant impact on irrigation schemes in Africa, with unpredictable rainfall patterns, droughts, and floods affecting the success of these projects.

#6. Limited Capacity

The capacity of farmers and local communities to manage and operate irrigation schemes is often limited, leading to inefficient use of resources and low productivity.

#7. Social and Cultural Factors

Social and cultural factors, such as gender inequality and traditional land use practices, can also pose challenges in designing and implementing irrigation schemes in Africa.

Gezira Irrigation Scheme

Gezira Irrigation Scheme is one of the largest irrigation projects in the world, covering an area of over 8,800 square kilometers in central Sudan.

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The scheme was established in the early 20th century by the British colonial administration to increase cotton production for export.

The scheme comprises of a network of canals, drains, and irrigation channels that draw water from the Blue Nile River, and has been expanded over the years to include other crops such as wheat, sorghum, and vegetables.

The scheme is managed by the state-owned Gezira Board, which oversees the distribution of land, water, and inputs to farmers, and provides extension services and credit facilities.

The Gezira Irrigation Scheme has played a significant role in Sudan’s economy, contributing to a significant portion of the country’s agricultural output, and providing employment for thousands of farmers and workers.

Kilombero Irrigation Scheme:

Kilombero Irrigation Scheme is located in the Kilombero Valley in Tanzania and covers an area of 350,000 hectares.

The scheme was established in the 1960s with the aim of improving agricultural productivity and increasing food security in the region.

The scheme draws water from the Kilombero River through a network of canals and channels, and farmers grow a variety of crops such as rice, maize, and vegetables.

The Kilombero Irrigation Scheme is managed by the Kilombero Valley Development Company (KVDC), a government-owned enterprise that provides technical assistance and support to farmers, and manages the distribution of inputs and credit facilities.

The scheme has been successful in improving agricultural productivity and reducing poverty in the region, and has created employment opportunities for thousands of farmers and workers.

Irrigation in Africa:

Irrigation has been practiced in Africa for thousands of years, with traditional systems such as furrow irrigation, basin irrigation, and flood irrigation still in use today.

The importance of irrigation in Africa has increased in recent years due to population growth, climate change, and the need to improve food security.

The most common irrigation methods used in Africa include surface irrigation, sprinkler irrigation, and drip irrigation, depending on the availability of water resources and the type of crops grown.

Irrigation in Africa is mostly practiced by smallholder farmers, who often face challenges such as limited access to water, poor infrastructure, and inadequate institutional support.

Governments, international organizations, and NGOs have been involved in promoting irrigation development in Africa through various initiatives, including the construction of large-scale irrigation schemes and the provision of technical assistance and support to smallholder farmers.

What Is Irrigation

The act of artificially providing water to crops to support their development and yield is known as irrigation.

Irrigation is used in areas where rainfall is insufficient, irregular, or unreliable, and can be applied to crops at different stages of growth depending on their water requirements.

The three main methods of irrigation are surface irrigation, sprinkler irrigation, and drip irrigation, each with its advantages and disadvantages.

Irrigation can have significant benefits for agricultural productivity, food security, and economic development, but also poses environmental and social challenges, such as water pollution, land degradation, and displacement of communities.

Examples of Irrigation Schemes in Africa

  1. Gezira Irrigation Scheme in Sudan
  2. Mwea Irrigation Scheme in Kenya
  3. Bagré Irrigation Scheme in Burkina Faso
  4. Kano River Irrigation Scheme in Nigeria
  5. Tadla Irrigation Scheme in Morocco

Major Irrigation Schemes in Africa:

  1. Gezira Irrigation Scheme in Sudan
  2. Office du Niger
  3. Mwea Irrigation Scheme in Kenya
  4. Sugarcane Irrigation Scheme in Zimbabwe
  5. Kano River Irrigation Scheme in Nigeria
  6. Tadla Irrigation Scheme in Morocco
  7. Senegal River Irrigation Scheme in Senegal

Largest Irrigation Scheme in Africa

The Gezira Irrigation Scheme in Sudan is considered the largest irrigation scheme in Africa, covering an area of over 8,800 square kilometers.

Examples of Irrigation Schemes in East Africa

  1. Mwea Irrigation Scheme in Kenya
  2. Kilombero Irrigation Scheme in Tanzania
  3. Doho Rice Irrigation Scheme in Uganda
  4. Bura Irrigation Scheme in Kenya
  5. Lower Kuja Irrigation Scheme in Tanzania

Examples of Irrigation Schemes

  1. Gezira Irrigation Scheme in Sudan
  2. Office du Niger in Mali
  3. Mwea Irrigation Scheme in Kenya
  4. Kilombero Irrigation Scheme in Tanzania
  5. Bagré Irrigation Scheme in Burkina Faso
  6. Kano River Irrigation Scheme in Nigeria
  7. Tadla Irrigation Scheme in Morocco
  8. Sugarcane Irrigation Scheme in Zimbabwe
  9. Senegal River Irrigation Scheme in Senegal
  10. Doho Rice Irrigation Scheme in Uganda
  11. Bura Irrigation Scheme in Kenya
  12. Lower Kuja Irrigation Scheme in Tanzania
  13. Bura Irrigation and Settlement Project in Nigeria
  14. River Kaduna Irrigation Scheme in Nigeria
  15. Marikana Irrigation Scheme in South Africa.

Conclusion

Irrigation schemes are vital for improving agricultural productivity and ensuring food security in Africa. The schemes mentioned in this article are just a few examples of the successful projects in the continent. With proper planning and implementation, irrigation schemes can continue to transform agriculture and support livelihoods in Africa.

Author: David

David is a Kenyan farmer from the rural village of Nairobi. Growing up, he was surrounded by the beauty of the Kenyan countryside, which sparked his passion for farming. After completing his education, he decided to pursue a career in agriculture and has since dedicated his life to providing food for his local community. David is an experienced farmer and is experienced in a range of agricultural practices, including crop rotation, animal husbandry and soil management. He is passionate about promoting sustainable agriculture and is actively working to reduce food insecurity in his community.

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