LILI’s main aspiration is to improve food security and income by providing better access to water for irrigation to small farmers through construction and rehabilitation of farmer managed irrigation schemes (FMIS). LILI provides technical assistance and fund for procuring non-local materials. LILI promotes mainly two types of irrigation systems/technologies. In general, construction refers to pond irrigation systems that are newly constructed and rehabilitation is done for existing canal-fed irrigation systems. The solution that we want to discuss in “Solutions for Water” is about pond irrigation systems.
LILI HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation, Nepal
Pond Irrigation, Income, Food security, Small farmers
LILI’s main aspiration is to improve food security and income by providing better access to water for irrigation to small farmers through construction and rehabilitation of farmer managed irrigation schemes (FMIS).
LILI provides technical assistance and fund for procuring non-local materials. LILI promotes mainly two types of irrigation systems/technologies. In general, construction refers to pond irrigation systems that are newly constructed and rehabilitation is done for existing canal-fed irrigation systems. The solution that we want to discuss in “Solutions for Water” is about pond irrigation systems.
- Pond irrigation systems: These are new irrigation systems which are usually situated in comparatively higher and colder areas (~ 1800 masl in average), highly potential for fresh vegetable farming. Fresh vegetables are cash crops that can increase income of farmers by far more that of cereal crops in a given area of land compared to cereal crops like wheat, maize, millet or paddy, provided market linkages are established. In this type of system water is collected in pond which is lined and sealed with sheet membranes. The sheets are water proof, resilient to harsh weather conditions; less affected by earth-movements, affordable for small farmers and can be easily repaired in case of small tears and replaced in case of damage. The water is conveyed to pond from springs or streams by means of pipes through gravity flow. Once the water is brought to farmers’ land from distant water sources, the farmers are usually smart to utilize water efficiently. Since this type of system is often built in water deficit areas, farmers need to distribute water on equal basis, provide labor force equally for construction and contribute to operation and maintenance fund equally. Those who have less land and require less water can sell water to those who require more water because of having more land.
The size of pond practiced are 15, 30, 45 and 60 cubic meters which depends upon available water and proposed command area.
The solution of pond irrigation system is implemented in selected food deficit areas in Nepal’s rural central-eastern and mid- & far-western regions in seven districts as mentioned above. They are hill areas, altitude ranging from 500 m to 2000 m above sea level.
LILI was initiated by HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation in 2004 under bi-lateral agreements between the Governments of Nepal and Switzerland. The driving force for initiation of the project is to contribute to MDG’s goal one: Eradication of extreme poverty and hunger.
The strategic actor at the central level is Department of Local Infrastructure Development and Agriculture Roads (DoLIDAR) which is under Ministry of Local Development of Government of Nepal. And at the district (local) level, District Development Committee (DDC), Village Development Committee (VDC), Local service providers (NGOs) and User Committee are the main actors. Collaboration with DoLIDAR, DDC and VDC is important to institutionalize the promotion of small irrigation systems in a sustainable way by the government bodies. They were envisioned during the project design of Phase II.
Follow up of the solution is ensured by DDC and trained local service providers at the local level and DoLIDAR at the central level.
Current development status of the solution is as follows.
- Tailor-made pond size design based on available water and command area is developed in excel sheet. (This sheet along with drawings will be an attachment).
- Local resource persons are trained to carry out design and implementation.
- The technology is tested in more than 100 villages in Nepal.
- Suppliers for Pond, Pool and Tank Lining are promoted at the local level.
- For smooth operation and maintenance of constructed pond irrigation systems, water distribution policies are in place, systems are registered in District Water Resource Committee, Caretakers are nominated and trained, operation and maintenance funds are established and agricultural linkages are ensured in each system.
By July 2013, LILI plans to support for building more than 100 pond irrigation systems benefiting approx. 30’000 people living from subsistence farming.
The key question answered by the solution is: How can small farmers who have less than half a hectare of cultivable land living in food deficit rural hill areas, increase their income significantly in a sustainable way?
For effective implementation and attainment
- Local service providers are trained for providing technical and social services.
- Socially balanced User committees are formed and trained.
- Collaboration is done with government bodies at the central and local level.
- Operation and maintenance systems are established at each scheme.
- User Committees are responsible for building and managing irrigation systems.
- Agricultural linkages are established with government and non-government agricultural service providers.
- Schemes’ selection criteria are developed in favor of small farmers.
Solution’s key outputs are:
- From 2006 more than 100 pond irrigation systems which consist of more than 300 ponds are built.
- The ponds have provided irrigation facility to more than 750 hectare of land of 5’000 small farmers.
- Initial investment cost per hectare is $ 1’800 and the net benefit is $ 550 per hectare per annum on an average.
- Socially discriminated groups and 40% women are proportionately represented in all users’ committee.
- 3% of construction cost of scheme is raised in more than 80% of the schemes as operation and maintenance funds.
- Minimum one caretaker is assigned in more than 80% completed schemes.
Key achievements are:
- The ponds have proven to be one of the main sources of income for more than 5’000 small farmers.
- The design is recognized by the Government of Nepal at central and local level.
- The design is replicated by other irrigation projects like Community Irrigation Project (CIP) in Nepal.
- DDCs, VDCs and local service providers have become capable to implement pond irrigation systems.
Some of the qualitative and quantitative indicators of success are
- About 50 genuine requests are received annually from each district to support for pond irrigation systems.
- 80% completed schemes are practicing equitable water distribution mechanism.
- More than 80% schemes are functioning after three years of completion.
- Farmers have expressed satisfaction from the constructed ponds.
- Operation and maintenance funds are contributed proportionate to volume of water used.
- Cropping intensity has increased by 30%, yield by 15% and about 20% cereal crops are replaced by cash crops.
- Adequate vegetable consumption was rarely in practice before, which has now improved significantly.
- Public hearing and audits are practiced in each scheme ensuring transparency and participation of all stakeholders.
Over the time we expect to see changes like.
- 80% of farmers associated with supported pond irrigation schemes attain more than six months food sufficiency.
- On-farm income increases by 50%.
- The technology disseminates and adopts in all hill districts of Nepal by the local government bodies.
The potentiality of replication is proven as the pond irrigation technology is recognized by government bodies. The technology is also adapted by Community Irrigation Project (CIP) which is funded by ADB and is active in 12 other districts of Nepal.
Since the technology is simple, affordable and can bring significant difference in the livelihood of small farmers, local government bodies have shown interest to adapt pond technology. Some farmers have been practicing the technology for 5 years and have become one of the major sources of income.
The solution works best in hill areas because the flow of water from source to pond is gravity-flow and is conveyed by means of pipe. The climate in these areas of Nepal is suitable for both season and off-season vegetable farming. The farmers of these areas work extremely hard to earn their living and also opt for seasonal migration to India for earning. With the available small land, usually less than half a hectare, the technology would be a boon for making a better living for small farmers, provided agricultural services are imparted for initiating optimal cropping pattern and higher yields. Market linkages are crucial for ultimately improving livelihoods.
To upscale this solution, the technology should be incorporated in governments’ plan and policy. Trainings related to technology should be provided to authorities of government bodies at local and national level but also disseminated with farmers, other governmental and non-governmental organizations and donor agencies world-wide.
A harmonized planning process and implementation modality should be agreed among major stakeholders to ensure that supports are received by the needy ones.
Lessons learnt are as follows.
- Farmers initially were not fully sure of the technology because of the doubt in the durability of Pond Lining. Now after using for more than three years, farmers’ satisfaction and confidence shows that the technology is one of the appropriate solutions for increasing their income.
- Pond sealing and lining with sheets membranes are advantageous over concrete ponds: The sheets are water proof, resilient to harsh weather conditions; less affected by earth-movements, affordable for small farmers and can be easily repaired or replaced in case of damage.
- Conflicts on the use of water source are found in some instances and should be sorted out during detail surveys. Discussions should be done not only among the users but also with adjacent villagers.
- Public hearings should be practiced at the outset of the project to reduce internal tensions and to promote transparency.
- Once the water is brought to their land from distant water sources, few cases of conflicts are observed during it’s distribution. Water distribution policies should be discussed and agreed among users.
- For appropriate water distribution, pond should be located properly; locations of water distribution outlets should be technically appropriate and acceptable to all users.
- Pond location area should be geologically stable and if the proposed land for pond is private land, should be discussed and agreed beforehand with the land owner.
- Caretaker’s role is found crucial for sustainability of the system. Adequate service fee should be provided to the caretaker. Not only caretaker should be made responsible for taking care of the system, but also he/she should be made responsible for water distribution. Caretaker’s job should be treated decently.
- Fencing of ponds is necessary if the depth of water in pond can drown children because they tend to swim in the pond or play around in nearby area.
- Intake should be constructed in safe location, safe from landslides and floods.
- All the users, women and tail users should be part in decision making processes.
Initially the investment cost can go up to $ 2’000 per hectare i.e. $ 15’000 per scheme in the context of Nepal because resources are required not only for building irrigation system but also to train local people, organizations and local government bodies. Once the system is familiar among stakeholders, the cost of construction is $ 1’800 per hectare i.e. $ 13’750 per scheme. On an average $ 3’000 is required for labor cost, $ 7’000 for construction material cost, $ 3’000 for services of service providers and $ 750 for providing training to caretakers and user committee. The initiative and willingness of the local communities concerned are the pre-requisites for the support. On an average nine months are required for construction of a scheme considering the time spent for other usual works, local festivals and holidays.
The main factors of success are
- The technology is simple to understand and implement by local technicians and farmers.
- It is a low-cost technology having a high probability of economic benefits.
- The technology is suitable for hill areas which account for more than 50% of the land area in Nepal.
- The technology is appropriate for small farmers striving for additional income from their small land.
- Collaboration is done with government bodies, local organizations and local agriculture service providers.
The Department of Local Infrastructure Development and Agriculture Roads (DoLIDAR) which is under the Ministry of Local Development of the Government of Nepal at the central level and the District Development Committee (DDC) at the district (local) level have recognized the technology. User committees concerned have expressed satisfaction and confidence from the constructed schemes. Community Irrigation Project in Nepal funded by ADB has adopted the technology by including the pond technology in its project document. Other international development organizations like International Development Enterprise (IDE), UK-based Practical Action and national organizations like SAPROS Nepal are implementing similar pond technologies to collect water and irrigate land of small land-holders in the hill areas. The Nepalese Government’s local bodies like DDC, District Agriculture Development Office (DADO) have started to adopt the pond technology for irrigation. Farmers’ increasing requests and local government bodies’ commitments indicate that pond technology has wider scope for future.
Local Infrastructure for Livelihood Improvement (LILI)
Program Support Unit (PSU)
GPO Box 688, Kathmandu, Nepal
Tel: ++977 (0) 1 552 9929 / 500 0027, Fax: 01 552 4991
Supporting materials for Pond technology promoted by LILI are
- Pond size design, drawings
- Pond video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KszQsKLWzBA
- LILI brochure and annual reports
- Website of LILI: http://www.helvetasnepal.org.np/lili.htm
- Website of pond lining sheet membranes manufacturer: www.supreme.co.in
- E-mail of LILI: firstname.lastname@example.org
- E-mail of pool lining sheet membranes manufacturer: email@example.com