Utilisation of Irrigation Facilities towards Reducing Poverty in the Upper West Region of Ghana

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October, 2010
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The economy of the UWR is largely agrarian with an estimated 86 percent of the population engaged in agricultural production as a source of livelihood. However, agriculture in the region is beset with erratic rainfall which leads to poor yield of crops. This goes to worsen the poverty situation of the people (88 percent of population is poor) (UNDP-Ghana, 2007). In order to mitigate the negative impact of single maxima and erratic rainfall pattern on agriculture, the GoG and other development partners like IFAD and PLAN Ghana have provided a number of irrigation facilities in the region to ensure all-year-round farming activities so as to increase food production. The irrigation facilities are however underutilised. This study therefore set out to find the underlying causes of the underutilisation. A study of three selected schemes (Sankana, Piina and Bullu) was conducted through field interviews of irrigation farmers and non-irrigation users, and institutions like GIDA, MoFA and SARI to find out their views and perceptions, and reasons for the underutilisation of the facilities. The study found among other things, the causes of underutilisation to be non adherence to the project planning stages, poor construction work leading to inadequate water distribution, low technical capacity of AEAs, weak WUAs, invasion of irrigation fields by domestic animals due to their closeness to settlements and lack of fencing, high nematodes infestation, no ready market for produce, and chieftaincy conflicts. The study also found the pipe network and tank system to be efficient in water application. The recommendations were therefore to use the DMTDPs as a means of identifying irrigation projects, building the capacity of AEAs in irrigation agronomy and water management, researching into the nematode problem, establishing a maintenance unit at GIDA to facilitate prompt and appropriate repairs of facilities, and creating markets for the farm produce by linking farmers to boarding schools and the School Feeding Programme. WUAs should also be retrained in water application and management.
A Thesis Submitted to the Department of Planning, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirement for the Degree of MASTER OF SCIENCE in Development Policy and Planning.