Groundwater and pump irrigation


Irrigation pump in Bangladesh (Priyas News)Rapid decline in groundwater tables have been reported all across Asia causing both shallow alluvial and deep groundwater aquifers to be critically overdraft due to accelerated groundwater extraction for irrigation, especially in South Asia and parts of East and Southeast Asia. Such trends are unsustainable and must be reversed through better management and policy regulation. Localized management as well as conjunctive use of surface and groundwater resources offer better options in managing and using the resource in a sustainable manner. One good example is the participatory groundwater management project assisted by FAO in Andhra Pradesh in southern India, where local communities have been successful in mitigating the overexploitation of the aquifer by increasing recharge and contributing to sustainable groundwater management through improved monitoring, knowledge, and understanding of groundwater resources. More discussion of this intervention maybe found under the community-based farmer managed irrigation system section. In areas where both surface water and groundwater resources are available, interventions in conjunctive use management should be encouraged and implemented incorporating groundwater recharge as a critical component of management.


Irrigation pump in Bangladesh (Priyas News)But in some countries and areas, the use of shallow groundwater wells has not been explored and developed. The development of groundwater resources should be investigated and utilized such as supplemental irrigation in the rainfed floodplains, deltas, and coastal region of South and Southeast Asia. Groundwater intervention is a demand-based system providing the farmer with reliable and flexible irrigation supply that is more cost-effective to develop than large-scale surface water supply schemes and can be targeted to specific groups of farmers, including the poorer and less-advantaged segments of society. However, the overall groundwater intervention emphasis is moving away from resource development to resource management. The emerging water, energy and food nexus is also an essential factor to consider regarding management and policy. The groundwater intervention options can be at either physical, management, or policy level or a combination of including shallow tube-well expansion, management improvements through capacity development at local levels, and institutional interventions on regulation and policies.



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Land and Water Division, Natural Resources and Environment, Food and Agriculture Organization Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Bangkok Thailand 10200

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