This is a previous project site under CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE). For more information and current updates, visit the WLE website.

Home > Research > Research into Use > Research into Use Project on Benefits of Shallow Groundwater Irrigation (RiU PN65)

Full Title: Enhancing uptake and socio-economic benefits of shallow groundwater irrigation in the White Volta Basin


One Phase 1 project, entitled ‘Shallow groundwater irrigation in the Volta basin’ (PN65) characterized the bio-physical, technical, economic, and environmental features of shallow groundwater irrigation in the Atankwidi catchment. The study specifically confirmed the spatial extent and socio-economic benefits of shallow groundwater irrigation systems.

As a follow-up, this project built on these findings to explore the potential for greater use of groundwater irrigation in the White Volta Basin. The proposed objectives of the project were:

  1. to identify and, where possible, introduce affordable technologies adapted to local conditions;
  2. to improve the understanding of the economics of current and potential crop enterprises, and explore interventions that help address the marketing challenges faced by shallow groundwater irrigation practitioners; and
  3. investigate ways of fostering and accelerating uptake and adoption of groundwater irrigation in other areas of the White Volta Basin.
Research Highlights

To achieve these objectives the project implemented several research-into-use activities, grouped into three interrelated and mutually reinforcing work packages. These were:

  • Work Package 1: Evaluating existing irrigation methods and alternative technologies to improve shallow groundwater utilization efficiency and explore the use of deeper groundwater reserves. This activity assessed current groundwater lifting devices and compared them (against various criteria such as labour demand, ease of use, costs, etc.) with other technically feasible and affordable devices based on alternative energy sources. We were not able to evaluate the sustainability of groundwater utilization because periodic monitoring of groundwater levels was not established early in the project and no funds nor experts were available in the second year to conduct monitoring. As part of this work package, we also tested the technical and economic feasibility of tapping into deeper groundwater reserves.
  • Work Package 2: Improving profitability and market access: a value-chain analysis. This activity examined the factors that hinder market access and lower profitability and offered recommendations to improve returns to investment in shallow groundwater irrigation by smallholders. It identified the socio-economic and institutional barriers that constrain smallholder irrigators from participating and benefitting from existing and emerging value chains. It explored opportunities for farm diversification through the production of high value crops or other farm enterprises (e.g. crop-livestock and fisheries) in order to enhance water productivity and profitability.
  • Work Package 3: Improving uptake and out-scaling of shallow groundwater irrigation technologies and management practices. Work package 3 focused on understanding the dynamics of shallow groundwater exploitation and identifying opportunities for uptake and adoption in other areas beyond the initial study sites. It identified extrapolation domains within the Upper East Region that are homogeneous with respect to biophysical, land-scape, hydrological, geological, and demographic variables for the up- and out-scaling of shallow groundwater irrigation practices.

International Water Management Institute (IWMI) (lead), International Development Enterprise (IDE) and University for Development Studies (UDS), Tamale.

Project Leader


1.Jan.2012 – 30.Apr.2014 (28 months)

Geographic area

Volta Basin, Ghana, Atankwidi catchment