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Water Issue Brief: Revitalizing irrigation

Published by:
Publication date
Number of Pages
Type of Publication:
Working Papers & Briefs
Focus Region:
Asia and the Pacific
Focus Topic:
Land / Water / Resource Management
Type of Risk:
Biological & environmental
Type of Risk Managment Option:
Risk reduction/mitigation
International Water Management Institute (IWMI)

The conditions that led to large public investment in irrigation in the second half of the twentieth century have changed radically and today’s circumstances demand substantial shifts in irrigation strategies. To feed the nine billion people that will inhabit the Earth by 2050, we will need to grow more food and grow it more efficiently. Given the growing demands for water from non-farm users, and that in many places there is little land to expand agriculture, boosting productivity from existing irrigated lands will be vital.

Key messages:

  • Revitalizing irrigation across Asia and Africa is the key to ensuring that future populations do not go hungry.
  • Farmers are increasingly pumping groundwater to meet their water needs, leaving behind the old systems and institutions that managed them.
  • Using agricultural landscapes for a wider range of functions can help to produce ‘more crop per drop’.
  • Increased investments are urgently needed in irrigation and other agricultural water management methods, using a full range of options from large- to small-scale infrastructure.