Improved water management for irrigation

Project description

Title: Egyptian-German Water Management Reform Programme
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Egypt
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation (MALR)
Overall term: 2015 to 2018

Private irrigation infrastructure on a farm. Photo: GIZ

Due to its growing population and limited water resources Egypt faces a great scarcity of water, with just 650 cubic metres available per person per year. By comparison, the per capita availability in Germany amounts to 2,300 cubic metres. The escalating demand from private consumers and industry, as well as from agricul-ture, is increasing the pressure on farmers to use water more efficiently. At present, agriculture accounts for about 85 per cent of Egypt’s annual water consumption.

The Egyptian Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation (MALR) as well as farmers and farmer organisa-tions use optimised their processes for integrated water resources management (IWRM) in irrigated agricul-ture, within their areas of responsibility.

Women in a farmer field school learning about  good agricultural practices. Photo: GIZ

The project team, consisting of GIZ and various units from the agriculture ministry, is supporting farmers and government authorities in the Nile Delta in applying optimised processes for integrated water resources management in the field of irrigation, within their respective areas of responsibility. These activities are fo-cused on the two governorates of Kafr el Sheikh and Beheira.

The project has previously developed innovative processes for integrated water resources management. It has also provided training for institutions responsible for irrigated agriculture, and optimised their internal processes. It is currently engaged in scaling up these measures. In this respect, the project team is advising and training farmers and their organisations so that they will be able to introduce efficient and effective agri-cultural water use on their fields
So that women can achieve their full potential as actors in irrigated agriculture, the project guides them on carrying out income generating community initiatives. This includes, for example, reusing organic waste from agriculture as a substrate for the cultivation of mushrooms. This helps avoid the pollution of the irrigation water, while ensuring the women have an additional source of income from the sale of mushrooms.

The team is training agricultural advisors on how to adapt their services and internal processes to needs of the farmers and to impart knowledge that is relevant to specific target groups. In this activity, the project is working together with IP Consult. In farmer field schools, the farmers can try out the theory and practice of efficient irrigation systems on the ground. To guarantee the operation and maintenance of the new irrigation infrastructure in the long-term, the project also trains technicians, works with the farmers to develop plans for the sustainable operation and maintenance, and cooperates with its partners to establish technical centres.

Approaches to the re-use of organic agricultural waste which have already been successfully piloted are currently being shared with several other communities.

In order that the ministry and the farmers’ cooperatives can better determine and monitor the farmers’ water needs within their catchment areas, the project team is collecting data on the current actual area of cultiva-tion for each irrigation channel.

The creation of complaints desks in the ministry’s local offices gives the farmers a clear point of contact for their problems, and a means to find solutions.

Demand-oriented agricultural extension approaches, such as the farmer field schools, have proven to be very successful. Smallholder farmers who have participated in these schools have reported yield increases of up to 30 per cent while using as much as 20 per cent less water for irrigation. So far, 38 farmer field schools have been set up, and around 1,200 smallholder farmers have benefited from their advice.

The re-use of approximately 3,000 tonnes of agricultural organic residues has prevented this material from being incinerated, and has reduced the amount of material contaminating and blocking irrigation and drain-age canals. Instead, the material is used by about 1,000 farmers, which in turn reduces their input costs by roughly 20 per cent for fertilisers and 50 per cent for fodder.

More than 60 farmer cooperatives now have access to more accurate agricultural data, as well as the know-how for collecting new data themselves. Thus, the preconditions have been met for accurate planning to meet the water needs of about 70,000 farmers cultivating almost 40,000 hectares.

Following the development of a digital complaints management system, farmers can now transparently reg-ister and follow-up on complaints. This in turn enables the Ministry of Agriculture to analyse the root causes of problems and seek rapid solutions by allocating them to the responsible entities. So far, four such com-plaint management centres have been established in the two governorates.

Farmers testing water-efficient rice planting techniques. Photo: GIZ


Kirsten Nyman