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Home > Phase 1 > Phase 1 Volta > Groundwater irrigation in the Volta Basin (PN65)

Full Project Title: Shallow groundwater irrigation in the White Volta Basin (PN65)


Over the past years, recurrent droughts/spells or frequent floods have led to food insecurity and increasing poverty in the White Volta Basin (WVB) where formal irrigation benefits only a limited number of farmers.

Hundreds of rain-fed smallholder farmers began developing irrigation systems to cultivate vegetables using shallow groundwater irrigation (SGI) in small stretches along dry tributaries. Farmers identify suitable areas for irrigation based on their local experience of the groundwater availability in the area for dry season farming.

The project objective was to assess the current role of shallow groundwater irrigation in securing livelihoods and reducing poverty in the White Volta basin; develop improved management practices and policy recommendations for shallow groundwater irrigation.

Research Highlights

Research highlights

  • PN65 has mapped the potential for SGI in the White Volta basin and has provided better understanding the hydro-geological characteristics of shallow groundwater in the Atankuidi basin. It has also confirmed that benefits from SGI are substantial in terms of generating income.
  • Stakeholders including extension agents and scientists have better understanding of the extent of SGI in the White Volta Basin. National partners in Ghana and Burkina Faso gained experience in the methods and tools used for SGI analysis and have deeper insights into farmers’ knowledge and perceptions about constraints to SGI
  • Sharing of experiences and interactions with various stakeholders enabled the research team to refine the technologies and adapt them to the farmers’ physical and socio-economic conditions.
Project Outcomes

Project outcomes

  • SGI is widespread in the WVB and already generates substantial income for smallholder farmers. Despite the tangible benefits, SGI is not accounted for in national agricultural water policies. The potential for up- and outscaling of SGI is promising, and should be better accounted for in basin-wide agricultural water policies. However, now the local development organization like the Water Resource Commission (WRC) is ensuring that their policy allows the contribution of SGW.
  • At the research level, remote sensing and GIS for groundwater assessment is being used where previously only biophysical features were used for mapping on specific location without drawing inferences on larger scales.
Publications and Outputs

To view all outputs from project PN65 visit our document repository.

Selected publications and outputs

Journal articles

  1. M. Mdemu, W. Laube and B. Barry 2010: Temporal water productivity of tomato irrigated from a small reservoir and hand-dug wells in dry season cropping in the Upper East Region, Ghana in online Journal of Irrigation Zeitschrift fur.
  2. Bewasserungswirtschaft, 45. Jahrg., Heft 1 /2010, ISSN 0049-8602 Seiten 75-93.
  3. Gumma. M.K, Thenkabail. P.S, Barry. B., and Simon. S., 2010: Delineating shallow ground water irrigated areas in the Atankuidi watershed (Northern Ghana, Burkina Faso) using Quickbird 0.61-2.44 meter Data In African Journal of Environmental Science and Technology AJEST-10-052.

Research reports: (under review)

  1. Mawuli L., B. Barry, Gerald F., 2010: Modeling Groundwater Flow in the Atankuidi Catchment. IWMI (STATUS: Under review)
  2. B. Barry, G. Murali, B. Kortatsi, G. Forkuor, R. Namara, J. Van Den Berg, W. Laube, ,L M. Rebelo, 2010: Understanding Shallow Groundwater Irrigation In The White Volta Basin: Current Extent And Future Sustainability. Iwmi (STATUS: Under review)
  3. Regassa E. Namara, Joseph Awuni, and Boubacar Barry, 2010: Autonomous smallholder shallow groundwater irrigation development in Upper East region of Ghana: analysis of socioeconomic impacts, constraints and opportunities. IWMI (STATUS: Forthcoming).


  1. Deiting Lukas, 2009: Property rights and access to land in Northeastern Ghana; BA Thesis Final report University of Bayreuth/ZEF Germany.
  2. Fabian Lehmann, 2009: Local Knowledge of Farmers in Northern Ghana in Relation to Shallow Groundwater Occurrence. BA Thesis Final report University of Bayreuth/ZEF Germany.
  3. Joost van den Berg, 2008: Exploring shallow groundwater irrigation: current status and future application. A case study in the Atankuidi catchment, Ghana. MSc Thesis Final Report Delft University of Technology.
  4. Andrej Nikolaev, 2009: Mapping of Floodplains in the Atankuidi River Basin. MSc Thesis Final Report Delft University of Technology.
  5. Samuel Barnie, 2010: Hydrogeological and Hydrochemical Framework of Groundwater for Irrigation in the Atankuidi sub-basin of the White Volta Basin. MSc Thesis Final Report. KNUST-Ghana.
  6. John Tawiah Aidoo, 2010: Study of Wetlands, Shallow Groundwater and Crop Production the in the White Volta Basin in the Kassena Nankana District in the Upper East Region. MSc Final report University of Ghana Legon.

PhD Thesis (partially funded by CP65)

  1. Benjamin Schraven 2010: Irrigate or migrate? Local livelihood adaptation in Northern Ghana in response to ecological changes and economic challenges. PhD. Final Report University of Bonn/ZEF Germany.
Final Report
Project Partners

Project partners


Project Lead

Project lead


For more information on Phase 1 outputs please contact Udana Ariyawansa.