I r r i g a t i o n


Generally about 80% of the country receives less than 1000mm of seasonal unreliable rainfall. Arable land area is estimated to be 44 million hectares. According to the National Irrigation Master Plan (NIMP) study done in 2002, it was revealed that of the territorial area, potential irrigable area is estimated at 29.4 million hectares. Out of the total potential irrigable area, 2.3 million hectares have high potential, 4.8 million hectares have medium potential, and 22.3 million hectares are of low potential for irrigation development respectively. Current cultivated area is estimated to be 10.1 million hectares or 23% of the arable land, of which only about 2.3% is currently under irrigation. About 80% of this area is under smallholder and traditional irrigation and yet irrigation accounts for 8% of the agricultural production in the country of mainly rice, maize and vegetables.

The government acknowledges that, though traditional irrigation is potentially the most productive sub-sector of irrigation it has not been given adequate attention in the past. Traditional irrigation is, as a result, characterized by the several constraints. In Kilimanjaro region, for example, it is estimated that 52,000ha of land in Kilimanjaro are under traditional Irrigation system mainly in the highlands with 508 furrows covering an area of about 16,647ha. Traditional irrigation systems operate below capacity due to inadequate water supply caused by poor irrigation infrastructure and lack of skills in water management and poor farming practices. About 20% of the furrows built in the 1950s and 1960s need rehabilitation to improve irrigation efficiencies and productivity.

Majority of smallholder irrigators, who are the main crop growers and livestock keepers do not have land title deeds but hold land under deemed right of occupancy. Farmers consider this as a disincentive for investments in land management.

There has been a serious problem of the government trying to focus on expensive capital-intensive irrigation technologies. In traditional irrigation, expensive techniques are used instead of the low-cost innovative technologies (pipe conveyance, drip irrigation, treadle pumps, and water harvesting) affordable by most small irrigators.

Providing Solutions

TIP provides technical assistance to water user groups with regard to the improvement of existing irrigation system. The decision to implement proposed solutions is made in a participatory manner with target groups to be technically feasible, sustainable and cost effective.

Improvement of traditional irrigation systems is not limited to construction structures. Village Technicians are trained to operate and maintain an irrigation system. This training enables the groups to manage improved irrigation systems sustainability. As the farmers’ groups become strong, they operate communal funds from annual fees and penalty fines that are used for maintenance costs. Male and female farmers are also trained in Water Management in order to make a more efficient use for the most limited natural resource “Water”.