Farmer-Led Irrigation Can Enhance Food and Water Security

GWP co-designed a webinar series on farmer-led irrigation (FLI) in partnership with the World Bank, the International Water Management Institute, and the Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute. The 2-part series, which concluded on 9 July, highlighted the need for innovative water solutions to support agricultural production systems in a changing climate. FLI development has gained increased attention as one of the solutions to build climate resilience for smallholder farmers. GWP is involved with stakeholders in several countries on FLI initiatives.

Farmer-led irrigation is when farmers drive the establishment, improvement, or expansion of irrigated agriculture and influence the location, purpose, and design of irrigation development.

The first FLI webinar on 11 June brought together over 490 participants from 66 countries to a discussion about systemic barriers to scaling FLI development. The focus was on strengthening supply chains and services and how innovative finance modalities could support social inclusivity. The speakers agreed that to successfully scale up FLI, decision makers must acknowledge FLI in policies; develop it sustainably and inclusively; and create value chains that connect farmers with other players in the industry.

The second webinar on 9 July gathered about 350 participants. The discussion focused on sustainability and inclusivity, and on meeting the need to accelerate scale.

GWP Interim Executive Secretary Peter Repinski delivered a welcome note where he stressed that development of FLI can and should be further accelerated to offer viable solutions for enhancing food and water security for resource poor farmers around the globe.

“GWP actively engages with stakeholders in several countries to work on FLI initiatives at multiple scales. Our experience is that investments supporting farmer-led irrigation will not be effective, sustainable, and inclusive without concurrent investments in formal institutions and community governance,” said Mr. Repinski.

GWP West Africa Executive Secretary Armand Houanye gave a presentation on the perceptions from West Africa on the sustainability of FLI development and the role of institutions and multi-scale approaches. He said it is critical to enhance the enabling environment for sustainable and inclusive farmer-led irrigation development.

"GWP West Africa connects key stakeholders across the water-agriculture–energy-environment sectors, using holistic and multi-scale approaches to position inclusive and sustainable small-scale irrigation as a viable development and climate adaptation pathway," explained Mr. Houanye.

Watch the video recordings of both webinar sessions:


The conversation around farmer-led irrigation development will continue, including through a session led by GWP and partners during the online version of Stockholm World Water Week – WWWeek at Home – which takes place 24-28 August. More information about this will be available on the GWP website closer to the event.