, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp 139-146

Traditional irrigation management in Betmera-Hiwane, Ethiopia: The main peculiarities for the persistence of irrigation practices

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Abstract

Traditional irrigation, as part of the ancient agricultural practices in northern Ethiopia (Tigray), has persisted for long time since 500 B.C., while many newly introduced irrigation projects have usually failed there. The main objective of this study is thus to investigate the peculiarities pertinent to irrigation management and those having contributed for the persistence of traditional irrigation practices for a long period of time. The experience gained from such areas can definitely help make irrigation management system of new irrigation schemes sustainable. Betmera-Hiwane, one of the ancient traditional irrigation areas in Tigray region, was selected for the field study. Direct observations through field visits accompanied by interviews to farmers, local officials, local knowledgeable individuals and higher officials were made. After analyzing the collected primary and secondary information, the main peculiarities that contributed to the persistence of traditional irrigation areas were identified, and they are: the presence of communally constructed local rules, locally designed hydraulic control structures, ownership feeling of the irrigators and accountability of water distributors to the irrigation management, the culture for mobilizing communal resources and the culture of self-initiating local water management strategies.