Technical considerations affecting adoption of drip irrigation in sub-Saharan Africa

Lonia Friedlander*, Alon Tal, Naftali Lazarovitch

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Global water supplies are limited and will be increasingly strained as a result of global warming and increased agricultural demands. Drip irrigation can reliably provide increased yield and water use efficiency, yet its adoption in many food-insecure countries is negligible or less than 1% of total cultivated land. Failed technology transfer attempts are especially apparent in many African countries, despite a variety of promotion efforts. We explore the factors that influence successful drip irrigation adoption. Unlike previous studies, we focus on technical malfunctions and the array of difficulties that farmers may experience with their drip systems and their responses to these problems. By considering different farm types and four countries together, our results offer a broad perspective on the general trends and common problems among African drip users. We interviewed 61 drip irrigation adopters and analyzed their responses for statistically significant association with successful adoption. All respondents experienced a wide variety of technical difficulties with their systems. We also found that certain, very specific difficulties were good predictors of future drip irrigation abandonment. These include, water storage problems and problems with destructive wildlife. We make the following recommendations to drip irrigation promoters. (1) Redesign drip systems to help prevent common problems. (2) Invest in clear education for adopters, focusing on maintenance and repairs. (3) Encourage the adoption of complementary technologies to support the functioning of drip systems, such as water storage, purification and delivery systems, and defenses against animals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-132
Number of pages8
JournalAgricultural Water Management
StatePublished - Aug 2013
Externally publishedYes


FundersFunder number
Albert Katz International School of Desert Studies and Netafim™ Israel
Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research


    • Challenges
    • Smallholder agriculture
    • Sustained adoption
    • Technology transfer


    Dive into the research topics of 'Technical considerations affecting adoption of drip irrigation in sub-Saharan Africa'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this