Spatiotemporal variability in spate irrigation systems in Khirthar National Range, Sindh, Pakistan (case study)

  • Abdul Ghani SoomroEmail author
  • Muhammad Munir Babar
  • Muhammad Arshad
  • Anila Memon
  • Babar Naeem
  • Arshad Ashraf
Research Article - Hydrology


Satellite remote sensing and geographical information system (GIS) have been used successfully to monitor and assess the land use and land cover (LULC) dynamics and their impacts on people and the environment. LULC change detection is essential for studying spatiotemporal conditions and for proposing better future planning and development options. The current research analyzes the detection of spatiotemporal variability of spate irrigation systems using remote sensing and GIS in the Khirthar National Range, Sindh Province of Pakistan. We use Landsat images to study the dynamics of LULC using ArcGIS software and categorize five major LULC types. We obtain secondary data related to precipitation and crop yield from the provincial department of revenue. The maximum likelihood supervised classification (MLSC) procedure, augmented with secondary data, reveals a significant increase of 86.25% in settlements, 83.85% in spate irrigation systems, and 65% in vegetation, and a substantial negative trend of 39.50% in water bodies and 20% in barren land during the period from 2013 to 2018. Our study highlights an increase in settlements due to the inflow of local population for better means of living and an increase in spate irrigation systems, which indicates the water conservation practices for land cultivation and human purpose lead to the shrinkage of water bodies. The confusion matrix using Google Earth data to rectify modeled (classified) data, which showed an overall accuracy of 82.8%–92%, and the Kappa coefficient estimated at 0.80–0.90 shows the satisfactory results of the LULC classification. The study suggests the need to increase water storage potential with the appropriate water conservation techniques to enhance the spate irrigation system in the hilly tracts for sustainable developments, which mitigates drought impact and reduces migration rate by providing more opportunities through agricultural activities in the study area.


Spate irrigation LULC Remote sensing GIS Water bodies Vegetation Confusion matrix Khirthar National Range 



The current research was conducted using the GIS and Computer Labs of the US-Pakistan Center for Advanced Studies in Water (USPCAS-W)/Mehran University of Engineering and Technology, Jamshoro. We also acknowledged the efforts, dedications, and knowledge of the local people who are engaged in the existing spate irrigation system; their dedicated efforts and expertise played a vital role in developing the current research. With great pleasure, the authors acknowledge the support provided by the FBLN/MetaMeta under “Africa to Asia and Back: Testing Adaptation in Flood Based Farming Systems” and the cooperation and supervision of the faculty of the USPCAS-W. Last but not least, many thanks go to USAID for providing technical support for the establishment of the Center.


No funding was received.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Institute of Geophysics, Polish Academy of Sciences & Polish Academy of Sciences 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.United States-Pakistan Center for Advanced Studies in Water (USPCAS-W)Mehran University of Engineering and Technology (MUET)JamshoroPakistan
  2. 2.Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC)IslamabadPakistan
  3. 3.Department of Chemical EngineeringKing Khalid University (KKU)AbhaSaudi Arabia
  4. 4.PARC/NARCIslamabadPakistan

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