IWMI projects on managing irrigation water for drinking & domestic useManaging water as a basic human requirement
Duration: 1999 - 2002
Objective: To evaluate the impacts of different water management decisions on the quality and availability of water for drinking and domestic use
Field research location: Uda Walawe Irrigation System, Ruhuna River Basin (an IWMI Benchmark Basin), Sri Lanka
Many of the deep tube wells in the Uda Walawe area are contaminated by fluoride, which, in the large quantities present, damages children's teeth and with long exposure causes irreversible skeletal damage. Water for drinking is often obtained from shallow wells dug near irrigation canals.
The availability of water in these wells appears to be strongly linked to management of irrigation water, suggesting that the wells are being supplied with water seeping from reserviors, unlined canals and paddy fields. Bathing and washing commonly take place directly in the reservior or irrigation canals.
This project is evaluating how different irrigation and cropping regimes and the concrete lining of irrigation canals affects the availability and quality of water in the area. As a result of this research, the concerns of non-agricultural users of irrigation water have been put on the agenda of the agencies responsible for water management in the area.
Contact person: Eline Boelee at firstname.lastname@example.org
Donors: CIDA in collaboration with McGill University, Montreal, Canada (Phase 1 received funding from IDRC).
Domestic water supply and sanitation in irrigated areas
Duration: 1998 - 2002
Objective: To maximize potential health benefits to be gained from the availability of irrigation water for drinking and domestic use in areas with brackish groundwater conditions
Field research location: Hakra 6-R irrigation distributary, Punjab, Pakistan
In the large areas of Pakistan where groundwater is too saline for human use, villagers divert canal irrigation water into small community reservoirs—called diggis—to meet their domestic needs. This water is either carried home by hand or is supplied to the household by means of PVC pipes and hand and motor pumps.
In addition to using water directly from these reservoirs, people tap small pockets of potable groundwater formed by seepage from unlined irrigation canals and fields. In this case, the sandy soils act as a filter—removing fecal contaminants.
Availability of this cleaner water depends on how much and how often irrigation water is released into the canals. For a period of four to eight weeks, during the annual canal closure, people must rely on water stored in the local diggi or in household storage tanks.
Project description: IWMI's research is looking at ways to make irrigation water a safer source for drinking and domestic use, and trying to find ways to get the most benefit from this abundant supply of fresh water in a desert environment.
An intensive one-year baseline study on epidemiology of water-related infectious diseases, water quality, water supply and sanitation, and hygiene practices has been completed in the Hakra 6R distributary, southern Punjab, Pakistan.
As a second phase a number of small intervention studies have been started to test some of the methods that could improve water supply and sanitation and reduce diarrheal disease. The focus is entirely on activities that can be implemented by communities themselves.
Contact person: Jeroen Ensink at email@example.com
Donors: CIDA (Phase 1 received funding from Danida, the EU and the government of Japan)
Objective: To document the benefits of managing water for both irrigation and domestic use and to develop ways of mininimizing concommitant health risks.
Field research locations: Tessaout Amont irrigation system, Central Morocco and Zebra irrigation system, North-East Morocco
The construction of dams and modern irrigation systems in the dry Haouz plain of Central Morocco increased overall water availability, while the high-density network of lined canals brings this water close to fields and houses. In the Tessaout Amont irrigation system, the present water management creates a regular flow of water in the larger canals and intermittent rotational flow in smaller canals. As a result, the irrigation system has turned into an almost permanent and readily available source of surface water to the rural population.
With a ground water table of over 100 meters deep in parts of the region and only a few deep wells, people depend on the irrigation system to supply them with water for all agricultural and domestic purposes. Partly underground covered reservoirs, called metfia, are used to store irrigation water for domestic use. The communal metfia are generally quite large, originally built of mud and stones, but often rehabilitated with support from the irrigation agency. The small ones are usually privately owned and built in the courtyard of individual houses.
Most of the communal as well as private metfia are used by several families, who lift the water from the tank with buckets. The individual owners use water from their personal irrigation water rights to fill their metfia. Communal reservoirs have always been entitled to special water gifts and the irrigation agency still respect these water rights in rotation with their irrigation water schedules.
The situation is somewhat different in the Zebra irrigation system in North-East Morocco, the groundwater is too saline for consumption. The farmers have special permits from the irrigation agency to pump canal water directly into specially rigged water supply trucks, which transport it to their storage tanks, locally called joub. This water is then used for all kinds of domestic and hygiene activities, but also for small scale industry such as brick making and intensive husbandry. The quantities of water taken from the canal exceed the specifications in the permits. IWMI research is currently investigating whether this could be a problem for irrigation water management in times of water scarcity.
This research looks at the way water is traditionally managed for both irrigation and domestic use. The analysis focuses on the benefits of this practice and on developing ways to mininimize concommitant health risks: exposure to water-bourne and water washed diseases and vector borne diseases such as schistosomiasis - a major health problem in the study area.
View complete listing of reports, books and journal articles
Contact person: Eline Boelee at firstname.lastname@example.org
Multiple uses of irrigation water
Objective: To evaluate the multiple non-agricultural uses and users of irrigation water.
Field research locations:
Background: There is a common failure to recognize that irrigation systems supply water not only for fields, but also for domestic uses, home gardens, trees and other permanent vegetation and livestock. Other productive uses include fishing, harvesting of aquatic plants and animals, and a variety of other enterprises such as brick making.
Project description: The aim of this project, conducted under the System-Wide Initiative on Water Management, was to document the non-agricultural uses and users of water in irrigation systems, to identify further areas for research and to highlight key issues that must be addressed in water resources planning and policy. These intial studies in Sri Lanka and Pakistan have informed IWMI's research on the use of irrigation water for drinking and domestic usetwo of the uses identified with important health impacts.
Donors: As a project under the SWIM program, this study was funded by the Ford Foundation, the Rocefellar Foundation and the governments of Australia, Denmark, France, Germany and the Netherlands
Contact person: Randolph Barker at email@example.com
updated: 18 September, 2001