Performance assessment of smallholder irrigation in the central rift valley of Ethiopia

G. E. van Halsema, Beshir Keddi Lencha, Mengistu Assefa, H. Hengsdijk, J. Wesseler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


The recent increase in smallholder irrigation schemes in the Central Rift Valley of Ethiopia has been associated with the overexploitation of water resources while the economic viability of these schemes has been questioned. This paper assesses water use efficiencies of the Haleku Irrigation Scheme and quantifies improvement scenarios. The viability of these scenarios is discussed taking into account the socio-economic performance of the Haleku Irrigation Scheme and the nearby Dodicha Irrigation Scheme - that feature similar settings but contrasting socio-economic performance. The irrigation efficiency of Haleku is 35% but conveyance losses and application efficiencies vary widely across the scheme. Scenario results indicate scope for improvement and reduced water abstraction. Yields and economic returns of irrigated crops were higher in Haleku than in Dodicha but yields are still lower than attainable yields. Any strategy to increase irrigation efficiency will have to include a programme to improve crop productivity and economic returns. Considering the over-abstraction of water resources the poor irrigation performance of Haleku and the disappointing socio-economic performance of both Haleku and Dodicha suggest that policy should focus on improving existing schemes in the Central Rift Valley instead of further developing new ones.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)622-634
Number of pages13
JournalIrrigation and Drainage
Issue number5
StatePublished - Dec 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Horticulture
  • Irrigation efficiency
  • Poverty reduction
  • Water management


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