Water, Sewage & Effluent May June 2019 - Page 27

The objective of the pilot was to assess the system’s technical performance and economic viability as well as the effectiveness of community-based management. IWMI pilot, involves the use of deeper boreholes to provide larger and more reliable supplies of groundwater. This offers farmers the possibility of expanding irrigated crop production during the dry season. Though common elsewhere in Asia, this option has not yet caught on in Laos. It therefore came as no surprise that participation in the pilot was quite modest. Farmers were wary of possible risks related to the costs of the new irrigation system. To allay these fears, the project subsidised the cost of energy for pumping water An Ekxang villager at the trial site for the International Water Management Institute's project for the sustainable use of groundwater as a supplement to primarily rainfed agriculture. innovations and making drought more common and severe. To help find a new way forward, researchers with the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) carried out a two-year pilot study of groundwater irrigation in Ekxang, with support from the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Development (ACIAR). Conducted in collaboration with Japan’s Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) and the Department of Irrigation, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF), Laos, the research contributed to the CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE). The results are reported in IWMI Working Paper 183: Community-managed groundwater irrigation on the Vientiane Plain of Lao PDR: planning, implementation and findings from a pilot trial. In a first for Laos, the pilot centred on a participatory approach, in which community members contributed to the construction and took responsibility for managing the groundwater irrigation system. The objective of the pilot was to assess the system’s technical performance and economic viability as well as the effectiveness of community-based management. Farmers at Ekxang typically irrigate crops with water from shallow wells, withdrawing it by means of buckets or pumps. In addition, they bring some surface water via a small canal from a neighbouring village. But by March or April, the canal and many wells have dried out, constraining the production of cash crops or a second rice crop. Another option, and the focus of the For more than 60 years, ROTHENBERGER has been a worldwide leader in producing innovative, technologically demanding pipe tools and machines for lavatory, climate-control, gas and environmental technology. 011 372 9631 | 083 417 8222 info@rothenberger.co.za www.rothenberger.co.za www.waterafrica.co.za Water Sewage & Effluent May/June 2019 25