Livestock-Water Productivity in the Nile Basin: Solutions for Emerging Challenges



The competition for water between different uses and users is increasing, particularly in the Nile basin where about 90% of the production systems comprise livestock. There is an ongoing debate on how to increase water productivity in these crop-livestock systems. This paper presents a comprehensive framework to provide policy guidance and promote action to improve returns from water investments through: (i) provision of sufficient watering points for livestock across the basin; (ii) improving water productivity through promoting water-saving technologies, ensuring system integration and control of transboundary flux of livestock diseases; and (iii) formulating participatory basin scale regulatory frameworks on water use and sharing. It also argues that improving water productivity through integrated technological, policy and institutional interventions offers an opportunity for smallholders in both upstream and downstream countries to adapt to climate and market risks.


Nile Livestock Water depletion Interventions 


  1. Amede T (1998) Analysis of Drought Resistance in grain legumes: the case of Vicia faba L., Pisum sativum L., Phaseolus vulgaris L., and Cicer arietin L. PhD thesis, University of Hohenheim, Ulrich Grauer Publishing, Stuttgart, 135ppGoogle Scholar
  2. Amede T, Geheb K, Douthwaite B (2009a) Enabling adoption of interventions to enhance livestock-water productivity in the crop-livestock systems of Eastern Africa: gender, institutions and action. Rangeland J 31:223–230CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Amede T, Tamene L, Habte E, Yimer A (2009b) Policies and institutional arrangements affecting livestock-water productivity in the Nile basin: case studies from ethiopia, sudan and uganda. A synthesis report, IWMI/ILRI/CPWF, June, 2009, Addis AbabaGoogle Scholar
  4. Amede T, Menza M, Awlachew SB (2011) “ZAI” for improving nutrient and water productivity in high rainfall ethiopian high lands. Exp Agric 47:7–20Google Scholar
  5. Arsano Y (2007) Ethiopia and the nile: dilemmas of national and regional hydropolitics. PhD thesis. Center for security studies, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich ETH Zentrum SEI, Switzerland. ISBN 3-905696-14-2Google Scholar
  6. Appelgren B, Klohn W, Alam U (2000) Water and agriculture in the Nile basin Nile basin initiative report to ICCON background Paper prepared by FAO, Land and Water Development Division, RomeGoogle Scholar
  7. Aredo D, Peden D, Taddese G (2006) Gender, irrigation and livestock: exploring the nexus. ILRI ReportGoogle Scholar
  8. Asefa DT, Oba G, Weladji RB, Colman JE (2003) An assessment of restoration of biodiversity in degraded high mountain grazing lands in northern Ethiopia. Land Degrad Dev 14:25–38CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Benjamin ML, Yitayew A, Oloro VM, Collick A, Brhane G, Steenhuis T (2008) Hydrological assessment and integrated water resources management with special focus on developing countries. Phys Chem Earth 33 (1–2):14–21Google Scholar
  10. Bossio D, Critchley W, Geheb K, van Lynden G, Mati B (2007) Conserving land – protecting water. In: Comprehensive assessment of water management in agriculture. Earthscan, London, and International Water Management Institute, Colombo, pp 551–583Google Scholar
  11. Bouman B (2007) A conceptual framework for the improvement of crop water productivity at different spatial scales. Agric Syst 93:43–60CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Bruinsma J (ed) (2003) World Agriculture: towards 2015/2030 an FAO perspective. Food and Agriculture Organization and Earthscan, LondonGoogle Scholar
  13. Cook S, Andersson M, Fisher M (2009) Assessing the significance of livestock water use in basins. Rangeland J 31:195–206CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Costales A, Gerber P, Steinfeld H (2006) Underneath the livestock revolution. In: Livestock report 2006. Food and Agriculture Organization, Rome, pp 15–27Google Scholar
  15. de Fraiture C, Wichelns D, Rockström J, Kemp-Benedict E (2007) Looking ahead to 2050: scenarios of alternative investment approaches. In: David Molden (ed) Comprehensive assessment of water management in agriculture. Earthscan, London, and International Water Management Institute, Colombo, pp 91–145Google Scholar
  16. Delgado CL (2003) Rising consumption of meat and milk in developing countries has created a new food revolution. J Nutr 133:3907S–3910SGoogle Scholar
  17. Deribe DS, Tewodros A, Belete B, Gete Z (2009) Impacts of micro-basin water harvesting structures in improving vegetative cover in degraded hillslope areas of north-east Ethiopia. Rangeland J 31:259–265CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Descheemaeker K, Nyssen J, Poesen J, Raes D, Mitiku H, Muys B, Deckers J (2006) Runoff processes on slopes with restored vegetation: a case study from the semi-arid Tigray highlands, Ethiopia. J Hydrol 331:219–241CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Descheemaeker K, Raes D, Nyssen J, Poesen J, Haile M, Deckers J (2009) Vegetation restoration on degraded hillslopes leads to groundwater recharge and increased water productivity at the landscape scale in semiarid highland areas in northern Ethiopia. Rangeland J 31:237–249CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Falkenmark M (2007) Shift in thinking to address the 21st century hunger gap moving focus from blue to green water management. Water Resour Manag 21:3–18CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. FAO (2000) Land resource potential and constraints at regional and country levels. Land and Water Development Division, FAO, Rome, 114pGoogle Scholar
  22. Fatondji D, Martius C, Bielders CL, Vlek P, Bationo A, Gerard B (2007) Effect of planting technique and amendement type on pearl millet yield, nutrient uptake and water use on degraded land in Niger. In: Bationo A (eds) Improving human welfare and environmental conservation by empowering farmers to combat soil fertility degradation African Soils Network (AFNet), Springer, The Netherlands, pp. 179–193Google Scholar
  23. Gigar-Reverdin S, Gihad EA (1991) Water metabolism and intake in goats. In: Morand-Fehr P (ed) Goat nutrition. Wageningen, Pudoc, pp 37–45Google Scholar
  24. Haileslassie A, Peden D, Gebreselassie S, Wagnew A, Amede T, Taddesse G (2009) Livestock water productivity in the Blue Nile basin: assessment of farm scale heterogeneity. Rangeland J 31:213–222CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Haileslassie A, Hagos F, Mapedza E, Sadoff C, Aulachew SB, Gebreselassie S, Peden D (2008) Institutional settings and livelihood strategies in the Blue Nile basin: implications for upstream/downstream linkages. IWMI working paper 132. International Water Management Institute, Colombo, 81pGoogle Scholar
  26. Herrero M, Thornton PK, Kruska R, Reid RS (2008) Systems dynamics and the spatial distribution of methane emissions from African domestic ruminants to 2030. Agric Ecosyst Environ 126 (1–2):122–137CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. ICRISAT (2007) Challenge program on water and food project 1: baseline survey report: South Africa and Zimbabwe. ICRISAT, BulawayoGoogle Scholar
  28. ILRI (International Livestock Research Institute) (2002) Livestock – a pathway out of poverty: ILRI’s strategy to 2010. ILRI, NairobiGoogle Scholar
  29. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (2001) Climate change 2001: impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  30. Kurukulasuriya P, Mendelsohn R, Hassan R, Benhin J, Diop M, Eid HM, Fosu KY (2006) Will African agriculture survive climate change? World Bank Econ Rev 20(3):367–88CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Lemly AD, Kingsford RT, Thompson JR (2000) Irrigated agriculture and wildlife conservation: conflict on a global sale. Environ Manage 25:485–512CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Mapedza E, Moraradet S, Cheron, C, Magombeyi M (2008a) Socio-economic conditions and agricultural water management practices of smallholders in quaternary catchment B72A, Olifants River Basin. IWMI, PretoriaGoogle Scholar
  33. Mapedza E, Amede T, Geheb K, Peden D (2008b) Why gender matters: reflections from teh livestock-water productivity research report. In: Humphreys E et al (eds) (2009) Fighting poverty throuh sustainable water use, vol II. Proceedings of the CPWF 2nd international forum on water and food, Addis Ababa, 10–14 Nov 2008, pp 97–100Google Scholar
  34. Mohamed Y (2000) Water budgets of the Nile basin, IWMI, (forthcoming) Addis Ababa, EthiopiaGoogle Scholar
  35. Molden D, Frenken K, Barker R, de Fraiture C, Mati B, Svendsen M, Sadoff C, Finlayson C (2007) Trends in water and agricultural development. In: Molden D (ed) Comprehensive assessment of water management in agriculture. Earthscan, London and International Water Management Institute, Colombo, pp 57–89Google Scholar
  36. Moustafa M, Gichuki F (2003) The Nile basin profile: strategic research for enhancing agricultural water productivity. Challenge Program on Water and Food, ColomboGoogle Scholar
  37. Mwendera EJ, Saleem MAM (1997) Hydrologic response to cattle grazing in the Ethiopian highlands. Agric Ecosyst Environ 64:33–41CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Mugwe J, Mick O, Samual G, Jonathan M, Jack M (2001) Participatory evaluation of water harvesting techniques for establishing improved mango varieties in smallholder farms of Mbeere District, Kenya. In: Stott DE, Mohtar RH, Steinhartt GC (eds) Sustaining the global farm. 10th International Soil Conservation Organization meeting, pp 1152–1157. Accessed 6 Nov 2007
  39. Norse D, Tschirley JB (2000) Links between science and policy making agriculture. Ecosystems and Environment 82:15–26Google Scholar
  40. Nyssen J, Moeyersons J, Poesen J, Deckers J, Haile M (2002) The environmental significance of the remobilisation of ancient mass movements in the Atbara-Tekeze headwaters, Northern Ethiopia. Geomorphology 49:303–322. doi:10.1016/S0169-555X(02)00192-7CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Parthasarathy RP, Birthal PS, Ndjeunga J (2005) Crop–livestock economies in the semi-arid tropics: facts, trends and outlook. International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropic, Patancheru, 68ppGoogle Scholar
  42. Peden D, Tadesse G, Misra A (2007) Water and livestock for human development. In: Comprehensive assessment of water management in agriculture. Earthscan, London and International Water Management Institute, Colombo, pp 485–514Google Scholar
  43. Peden D, Taddesse G, Haileslassie A (2009) Livestock water productivity: implications for Sub-Saharan Africa. Rangeland J 31:187–194CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Postel S (2000) Entering an era of water scarcity: the challenges ahead. Ecol Appl 10:941–948CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Postel S, Wolf A (2001) Dehydrating conflict. Foreign Policy 126:60–67. Google Scholar
  46. Pottinger L (2006, Aug) Africa’s perfect storm: extreme vulnerability to climate change increases pressure on rivers. World Rivers Rev 21(4):15Google Scholar
  47. Roose E, Kabore V, Guenat C (1999) Zaï practice: a West African traditional rehabilitation system for semiarid degraded lands, a case study in Burkina Faso. Arid Soil Res Rehab 13(4):343–355Google Scholar
  48. Rowntree K, Duma M, Kakembo V, Thornes J (2004) Debunking the myth of overgrazing and soil erosion. Land Degrad Dev 15:203–214CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Sanginga P, Kamugisha R, Kakuru A, Stroud A (2006) Facilitating participatory processes for policy change in NRM: lessons from the highlands of SW Uganda. In: Amede TL, German S, Rao CO, Stroud A (eds) Integrated natural resource management in practice: enabling communities to improve mountain livelihoods and landscapes. Conference proceedings 12–15 October 2004 Nairobi, Kenya. African Highlands Initiative, Kampala, Uganda, 390pp.Google Scholar
  50. Seré C, Steinfeld S (1996) World livestock production systems: current status, issues and trends. FAO Animal Production and Health Paper 127. FAO, RomeGoogle Scholar
  51. Singh OP, Sharma A, Singh R, Shah T (2004) Virtual water in dairy economy. Econ Polit Wkly 39:3492–3497Google Scholar
  52. Speedy AW (2003) Global production and consumption of animal source foods. J Nutr 133:4048S–4053SGoogle Scholar
  53. Steinfeld H, Gerber P, Wassenaar T, Castel V, Rosales M, de Haan C (2006) Livestock’s long shadow. Environmental issues and options. FAO, Rome, 390pGoogle Scholar
  54. Teixeira IA, Pereira Filho JM, Murray PJ, Resende KT, Ferreira ACD, Fregadolli FL (2006) Water balance in goats subjected to feed restriction. Small Rumin Res 60(1–2):20–27CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Thornton P, Herrero M (2001) Integrated crop-livestock simulation models for scenario analysis and impact assessment. Agric Syst 70:581–602CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Thornton P, Kruska R, Henninger N, Kristjanson P, Reid R, Atieno F, Odero A, Ndegwa T (2002) Mapping poverty and livestock in the developing world. International Livestock Research Institute, NairobiGoogle Scholar
  57. Van Breugel P, Herreor M, van de Steeg J, Peden D (2010) Livestock water use and productivity in the Nile Basin. Ecosystems 13:205–221Google Scholar
  58. Van Hoeve E, van Koppen B, (2006) Beyond fetching water for livestock: a gendered sustainable livelihood framework to assess livestock-water productivity. ILRI working paper number 1. ILRI, NairobiGoogle Scholar
  59. Wallace J (2000) Increasing agricultural water use efficiency to meet future food production. Agric Ecosyst Environ 82:105–119CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Williams TO, Hiernaux P, Fernández-Rivera S (2000) Crop–livestock systems in Sub-Saharan Africa: determinants and intensification pathways. In: McCarthy N, Swallow B, Kirk M, Hazell P (eds) Property rights, risk, and livestock development in Africa. International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington DC, and International Livestock Research Institute, Nairbi, pp. 132–151Google Scholar
  61. Wilson T (2007) Perceptions, practices, principles and policies in provision of livestock water in Africa. Agric Water Manag 90:1–12CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Wint W, Robinson T (2007) Gridded livestock of the world. FAO, Rome, ix, 131pGoogle Scholar
  63. WOCAT (World Overview of Conservation Approaches and Technologies) (2007) Where the land is greener – case studies and analysis of soil and water conservation initiatives worldwide. In: Liniger H, Critchley W (eds) CTA, FAO, UNEP, CDE on behalf of WOCAT, BernGoogle Scholar
  64. Yayneshet T, Eik LO, Moe SR (2009) The effects of exclosures in restoring degraded semi-arid vegetation in communal grazing lands in northern Ethiopia. J Arid Environ 73:542–549. doi:10.1016/j.jaridenv.2008.12.002CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and Challenge Programme on Water for Food (CPWF)Addis AbabaEthiopia
  2. 2.International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)Addis AbabaEthiopia
  3. 3.International Water Management Institute (IWMI)Addis AbabaEthiopia
  4. 4.CSIRO Ecosystem SciencesGlen OsmondAustralia
  5. 5.International Water Management Institute (IWMI)PretoriaSouth Africa

Personalised recommendations