Sustainable Energy Technologies and Assessments | USAID | Increasing Productivity Through Irrigation: Problems and Solutions Implemented in Africa and Asia

Published Feb. 22, 2017

By Daria Mashnik, Headley Jacobus, Amer Barghouth, Eva Jiayu Wang, Jeannelle Blanchard and Ryan Shelby for Sustainable Energy Technologies and Assessments

About Powering Agriculture

Powering Agriculture: An Energy Grand Challenge for Development supports the development and deployment of clean energy innovations that increase agriculture productivity and stimulate low carbon economic growth in the agriculture sector of developing countries to help end extreme poverty and extreme hunger.

Strategies to encourage widespread adoption of irrigation products and services are explored through examination of the work of seven Powering Agriculture Innovators.


The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization predicts that between 2005 and 2050 global food production will need to increase 70 percent to meet the demand of the world’s growing population. Simultaneously, climate change threatens to disrupt growing seasons and rainfall across the globe. For food production to keep pace with population growth and resist the effects of climate change, the expansion of irrigation to non-irrigated farmland is critical. Innovative, affordable, and easy-to-implement technologies are needed for smallholder farmers to irrigate efficiently, mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, and help adapt to the effects of climate change.

This paper presents three major interconnected problems inhibiting the spread of irrigation in Asia and Africa: lack of access to water, lack of access to energy, and lack of access to finance. This paper also discusses how these problems are interconnected, complicating the use of technological solutions to address these problems. Several approaches to address these three interconnected problems in Asia and Africa are presented in this paper. Through the examination of seven case studies in Asia and Africa, this paper finds that new irrigation products and services must include appropriate technology, sales, service, financing, and revenue collection in order for them to be widely adopted by underserved communities.