Academic journal article Eastern Africa Social Science Research Review

The Impact of Irrigation on Poverty Reduction and Food Security at the Household Level in South Wollo, Ethiopia

Academic journal article Eastern Africa Social Science Research Review

The Impact of Irrigation on Poverty Reduction and Food Security at the Household Level in South Wollo, Ethiopia

Article excerpt

(ProQuest: ... denotes formulae omitted.)


1.1.Background of the Study

Agriculture is the mainstay of the Ethiopian economy. It provides more than 85% of the employment, 90% of total export, 42% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and it is a major source of raw materials for the industrial sector. Ethiopia, being one of the poorest countries in the subSaharan African countries is characterized by diverse and complex farming systems. The country has the largest irrigation potential in Africa. The diversity and complexity of the farming system is so high in the northern part of the country where the Amhara national regional state is found (is this a problem?). Amhara national regional state is a home of 17.2 million people (CSA, 2008). The region consists of eleven administrative zones of which one of them is south Wollo. Poverty is persistent across Ethiopia and its regions. Poverty reduction is the overriding goal of development and the primary challenge facing the development community today. Despite dramatic global poverty reductions recorded in the last three decades, the number of poor people increased in the sub-Saharan and South Asian regions. Among the sub- Saharan countries, Ethiopia has the highest number of food insecure people and people who survive on less than a dollar a day (Tassew, 2004). An estimated 52% of the country's populations are food insecure and 44% below the poverty line (Dereje et al, 2011).

Small-scale irrigation development is a policy priority for rural poverty alleviation and growth in Ethiopia (MOFED, 2006), as well as climate adaptation (GoE, 2007). However, only around 5% of Ethiopia's irrigable land was irrigated (World Bank, 2006a), and less than 5% of total renewable water resources were withdrawn annually (FAO, 2005), so there is considerable scope for expansion. Irrigating households reported an average 20% increase in annual income since adopting irrigation, and in some cases up to 300%, due to cultivation of higher value crops, intensified production and reduced losses (Ripple, 2010). This report added that nutrition was said to have improved as various fruit and vegetables became locally available. Irrigation benefits the poor through higher production, higher yields, lower risk of crop failure, and higher and year-round farm and nonfarm employment and enables smallholders to adopt more diversified cropping patterns, and to switch from low-value subsistence production to high-value market-oriented production (Hussain and Hanjra, 2004). Hence, there is direct relationship between using irrigation and poverty alleviation.

Gerado irrigation canal has used by farmers traditionally for many years. The regional government developed the canal for the purpose of irrigating only 80 hectares, yet the canal is used by more than 1400 farmers to irrigate over 150 hectares. Despite the various purposes of small scale irrigation, the majority of the farmers in the study area are not receiving the potential benefits. Rather the inhabitants of the area suffer from hunger and malnourishment. Irrigation canals are not providing the required benefits for the majority of smallholder farmers. The major challenges of the subsector include a) traditional system of production b) irrigation water conflict c) lack of improved seed for vegetables d) poorly developed marketing system e) weak extension, credit, local community rules and research support and f) lack of collective action at each stage of the market participants (Hassen, 2011).

However, an integrated production and marketing activity by some households in the country showed a considerable market option for irrigated crops in the local and international markets. Some households participated in forward and backward linkages in the production and marketing chain and earn better payment to alleviate poverty using irrigation (Ripple, 2010). To participate in such activity, farmers are obliged to make complicated production and marketing decisions. …

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