Improvement of Irrigation Efficiency

Rice production is the single biggest agricultural use of fresh water in the region. Effective water use during paddy field irrigation is vital for both further agricultural development and development in other water related sectors.

The Improvement of Irrigation Efficiency on the Paddy Fields in the Lower Mekong Basin Project aimed to improve irrigation efficiency through provision of guidance to water managers. Three objectives were defined to realise this aim:

  • Appraise irrigation efficiencies and irrigation systems based on modern approaches in selected irrigation schemes;
  • Enhance capacity of all the stakeholders in using modern concepts of irrigation efficiencies, water balance, and modern tools and procedures for their assessment; and
  • Produce guidelines for improving irrigation efficiency of paddy fields based on actual water use conditions in Member Countries.

The project conducted analysis of actual irrigation efficiencies based on intensive field observations at selected schemes, and assessed the performance of those schemes in terms of technical, managerial and institutional aspects, and then produced guidelines based on findings from the field.

For the efficiencies analysis, a modern approach towards water balance, which took into account interactions between surface and ground water, was applied. For scheme performance assessment, the Rapid Appraisal Process (RAP), jointly developed by FAO and the World Bank, was applied as a diagnosis tool. A RAP Training Workshop was held and initial Assessment report produced.

The Project achievements were presented on various occasions. The Basic concept was introduced at an international conference in Chiang Rai, Thailand in October 2006. Furthermore, a paper on assessed irrigation efficiency and water productivity based on 2006/07 dry season observation was presented at the 3rd South East Asia Water Forum held in Kuala Lumpur in October 2007.

All project reports are available in the MRC Agriculture and Irrigation Reports page.