On the night of Tuesday February 4, 2014, Philippe Lempérière, a Senior Irrigation Specialist at the East Africa and Nile Basin Office of the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, passed away suddenly and totally unexpectedly.

Philippe Lempérière
Philippe Lempérière
Photo: ILRI on Flickr

Philippe was born in France in October, 1957, where he was educated. His tertiary training in irrigation was as an engineer in agricultural and rural engineering at the National Agricultural and Rural Engineering Institute, Angers, France (1981). In 1989, Philippe followed this up with in-service training on agricultural water resources development and management with the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Centre of Tropical Agronomic Studies, Montpellier, France.

From this background, Philippe began to explore the opportunities and challenges offered by working in Africa. Over the subsequent 25 years, he had built-up an incredible range of experiences and a sterling reputation in water resources management and irrigation planning, working in Somalia, Sudan, West Africa, East Timor, Ethiopia and Kenya in farmers’ organizations, consultancy firms and at IWMI. He was a consultant to, and conducted projects for, several African governments (Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast and Mali), the Eastern Nile Technical Regional Office, the European Commission, the US government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation and the United Nations. He also managed the Organization of Organic Farmers of Northern France for 4 years. Philippe was widely known professionally to many for the production of the practical handbook on irrigation appraisal (van der Schans and Lempérière 2006). During his first tenure with IWMI (2003 to 2007), Philippe was the first internationally recruited staff member in the newly established IWMI regional office in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He played a key role in building its reputation and capacity. For the last 18 months, Philippe had been team manager for IWMI on a major project working with colleagues in the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) on improving irrigation management as a component of the Livestock and Irrigation Value Chains for Ethiopian Smallholders (LIVES) project. Philippe was passionate about, and dedicated to, this project, with its goal of reducing poverty and improving farmers’ livelihoods in Ethiopia.

On the personal side, Philippe was a real enthusiast for life, often masked by his humble nature. Some of his enduring aspects and qualities were his dry sense of humor, his incredibly caring nature and his love for his family. Perhaps, summed up in a quote from a long-standing friend and colleague, “I greatly valued Philippe’s vast reservoir of professional expertise and knowledge and the readiness with which he shared his experiences, but I will always remember him for his personal qualities of sincerity, simplicity and extreme humaneness. I have truly lost an esteemed friend.”

Philippe is survived by his wife, Khalda, and son, Basile.

The funeral will take place on Wednesday February 12, 2014, in Maubeuge, France.

The IWMI East Africa and Nile Basin Office is planning a memorial or tribute to Philippe. Anyone wishing to contribute or learn more about this, as our thoughts develop with his family, please contact Mrs. Nigist Wagaye (n.wagaye@cgiar.org).

by Simon Langan, Principal Researcher – Agricultural Water Management and Head of Office, International Water Management Institute (IWMI), East Africa and Nile Basin Office, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

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Publications by Philippe

  • Awulachew, Seleshi Bekele; Lempérière, Philippe; Tulu, T. 2009. Training manual on agricultural water management. Nairobi, Kenya: International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). 227p.
    PDF (Open Access)
  • Lempérière, Philippe. 2006. Synthesis paper on irrigation performance in Kenya and lessons learnt from the APPIA Project. Paper presented at the Workshop on Irrigation Development for Food Security and Wealth Creation, Ministry of Water and Irrigation, Nairobi, Kenya, May 2005. 20p.
    PDF (Open Access)
  • van der Schans, Martin; Lempérière, Philippe. 2006. Manual: Participatory Rapid Diagnosis and Action planning for irrigated agricultural systems (PRDA). Rome, Italy: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO); International Programme for Technology and Research in Irrigation and Drainage (IPTRID); Colombo, Sri Lanka: International Water Management Institute (IWMI). 148p.
    PDF (Open Access)
  • Lempérière, Philippe; Van der Schans, Martin. 2004. Improving small-scale irrigation performance in Ethiopia through on the job training of extension officers: experience of the APPIA project. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: International Water Management Institute (IWMI). 24p.
    PDF (Open Access)