Assessing the correlation between service flexibility and the cost of modernized large-scale pressurized irrigation systems: a perspective of resilience


Traditional static design approaches are often challenged by multifaceted uncertainties such as climate change, future demand, supply options, high-tech opportunities as well as budgetary constraints. However, robust approaches that incorporate the option of flexibility combined with optimization advances are likely to meet threshold performance criteria with the least amount of associated expenses. To this aim, several countries have started the process of modernizing their irrigation schemes, foreseeing their on-demand operation. The re-modernized schemes are facing the challenge of the inadequacy of the service reported by the users/ratepayers, whose livelihoods are threatened by it as they mainly rely on agricultural production, and the sustainability of the modernization process. This study develops an adaptive framework that applies a two-pronged approach: it incorporates, on the one hand, a qualitative analysis through a rapid appraisal procedure (RAP) that fills the big data-gap issue, and a top–down approach on the other hand, mainly based on an iterative process that assesses the correlation between the flexibility of the service provided under uncertainties, as well as the financial feasibility. The latter is associated with the sensitive parameters of Clément’s first formula mainly used in the Mediterranean Region to design on-demand irrigation systems, and more specifically: the elasticity assigned at the feed hydrant of the distribution network, the coefficient of utilization of the network in the peak period, and the quality of the service. Applied to a Tunisian case study, the results clearly show that when adequately combining the flexibility levels of these parameters, an optimal quality service may be achieved with an average cost increment ranging between 13 and 16%, with a view of proactively increasing the resilience of the irrigators’ community.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8
Fig. 9
Fig. 10
Fig. 11
Fig. 12


  1. Banque Africaine de Développement (2012) Note Economique. Une Première Analyse, Distorsions aux Incitations et Politique Agricole en Tunisie

  2. Berkes F, Colding J, Folke C (2003) Building resilience for complexity and change. Navig Soc Syst.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Bos MG, Burton MA, Molden DJ (2015) Irrigation and drainage performance assessment: practical guidelines. CABI Publishing, Cambridge, USA

    Google Scholar 

  4. Boughanmi H (1995) Les principaux volets des politiques agricoles en Tunisie : évolution, analyse et performances agricoles. Options Méditerranéennes série B/n° 14 - Les Agricultures Maghrébines à L'aube de L'an 2000 138:127–138

  5. Clément R (1966) Calcul des débits dans les réseaux d’irrigation fonctionnant à la demande. La Houille Blanche.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Daccache A, Weatherhead K, Lamaddalena N (2010) Climate change and the performance of pressurized irrigation water distribution networks under mediterranean conditions: impacts and adaptations. Outlook Agric.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Doumani F, Khordagui H (2010) SWIM_Cost assessment of water resources degradation

  8. Facon TG (2001) Performance evaluation of Makhamthao Uthong Project with a rapid appraisal procedure. Water Energy Int 58:37–42

    Google Scholar 

  9. Facon T (2007) A rapid appraisal procedure to assess the performance of irrigation systems: lessons from a FAO Regional Irrigation Modernization And Management Training Programme in Asia - Introduction - The Food And Agriculture Organization Of The United Nations (FAO) H, pp 1–20

  10. Folke C (2006) Resilience: the emergence of a perspective for social-ecological systems analyses. Glob Environ Change.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Folke C (2016) Resilience (Republished). Ecol Soc.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Folke C, Carpenter SR, Walker B et al (2010) Resilience thinking: integrating resilience, adaptability and transformability. Ecol Soc.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Folke C, Biggs R, Norström AV et al (2016) Social-ecological resilience and biosphere-based sustainability science. Ecol Soc.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Hassainya J (ed) (1991) Irrigation et développement agricole : l’expérience tunisienne. In: Irrigation et développement agricole : l’expérience tunisienne. CIHEAM, Montpellier, pp 1–217

  15. Holling CS (1996) Engineering resilience versus ecological resilience. In: Engineering within ecological constraints, National Academy Press, Washington DC 31-43.

  16. Kadi DA, Beaucaire C, Cléroux R (1990) A periodic maintenance model with used equipment and random minimal repair. Nav Res Logist.;2-U

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Khadra R, Lamaddalena N (2006) A simulation model to generate the demand hydrographs in large-scale irrigation systems. Biosyst Eng.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Khadra R, Sagardoy JA (2019) Irrigation governance challenges in the Mediterranean Region: learning from experiences and promoting sustainable performance. Springer Nature, Cham

    Book  Google Scholar 

  19. Khadra R, Lamaddalena N, Inoubli N (2013) Optimization of on-demand pressurized irrigation networks and on-farm constraints. Procedia Environ Sci.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Kuper M, Bouarfa S, Errahj M et al (2009) A crop needs more than a drop: towards a new praxis in irrigation management in North Africa. Irrig Drain.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Lamaddalena N, Sagardoy J (2000) Performance Analysis of On-Demand Pressurized Irrigation Systems. FAO Irrigation and Drainage Paper 59, Rome

  22. Leach M, Rockström J, Raskin P et al (2012) Transforming innovation for sustainability. Ecol Soc.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Levin S, Xepapadeas T, Crépin AS et al (2013) Social-ecological systems as complex adaptive systems: modeling and policy implications. Environ Dev Econ.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Liehr S, Röhrig J, Mehring M, Kluge T (2017) How the social-ecological systems concept can guide transdisciplinary research and implementation: addressing water challenges in central Northern Namibia. Sustain.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Nono Matondo-Fundani (2012) Politiques agricoles en Tunisie. Note Econ

  26. Olsson P, Galaz V, Boonstra WJ (2014) Sustainability transformations: a resilience perspective. Ecol Soc.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Playán E, Mateos L (2006) Modernization and optimization of irrigation systems to increase water productivity. Agric. Water Manag 80:100–116

  28. Plusquellec H (1998) Modernization of irrigation systems: the role of the World Bank and new opportunities. ITIS V Work

  29. Plusquellec H, Burt CM (2000) Discussion of “Problems of irrigation in developing countries” by Herve Plusquellec and Charles M. Burt. J Irrig Drain Eng.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Pradhan P, Parajuli UN, Khanal RC (2017) Framework for effectiveness and resilience of small-and medium-scale irrigation systems in Nepal. Gov Nepal

  31. Raworth K (2012) A safe and just space for humanity. Oxfam Discuss Pap

  32. Renault D, Wahaj R (2006) MASSCOT: A methodology to modernize irrigation services and operation in canal systems. Applications to two systems in Nepal Terai: Sunsari Morang Irrigation System and Narayani Irrigation System. FAO, Rome

  33. Rockstrom J, Kaumbutho P, Mwalley P, Temesgen M (2003) Conservation farming among small-holder farmers in E. Africa: adapting and adopting innovative land management options. In: García-Torres L, Benites J, Martínez-Vilela A, Holgado-Cabrera A (eds) Conservation agriculture,Springer, Dordrecht.

  34. Rockström J, Steffen W, Noone K et al (2009) A safe operating space for humanity. Nature

  35. Sherif A, Doumani F (2010) Tunisia estimated costs for the degradation and restoration of water resources of the Medjerda Basin. pp 2010–2025

  36. Tyagi EAC (2015) Modernization of irrigation systems. Irrig Drain 64:440–441.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Walker B, Holling CS, Carpenter SR, Kinzig A (2004) Resilience, adaptability and transformability in social-ecological systems. Ecol Soc.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Roula Khadra.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Sawassi, A., Khadra, R. & Lamaddalena, N. Assessing the correlation between service flexibility and the cost of modernized large-scale pressurized irrigation systems: a perspective of resilience. Irrig Sci (2021).

Download citation