|Irrigation-Induced Salinity - A Growing Problem for Development and the Environment (WB, 1993, 94 p.)|
During the last century, irrigation has enabled the considerable expansion of cultivated land and the intensification of production, contributing significantly to the output increases achieved by many developing countries. Although urban and population pressures on agricultural areas continued to increase, the adoption of new high yielding varieties, greater use of fertilizers, and the expansion of irrigation spurred substantial rates of growth in agricultural production, offsetting the spiralling demands for food. Irrigation, thus, remains one of the potent forces for agricultural development. The continued intensive cultivation of many irrigated farm areas during the last century, however, was not without cost. It has also resulted in serious environmental degradation in many countries, including irrigation-induced salinity, waterlogging, soil erosion, and water pollution. These problems increasingly threaten the sustainability of irrigated agriculture in both developed and developing countries.
This study on irrigation-induced salinity was initiated in response to the growing concern in the World Bank regarding the environmental impact of agricultural projects and the need to promote environmentally sound and sustainable agricultural development. Shawki Barghouti, former chief of the Agricultural Production and Services Division of AGR, was instrumental in motivating the preparation of this report. This report is designed to promote a greater understanding of the nature of irrigation induced salinity by drawing on the experiences from irrigation development projects supported by national governments and the World Bank. It examines the technical, economic, social and institutional factors contributing to the onset of irrigation-induced salinity, and reviews the array of strategies that can be pursued to ameliorate it. The study confirms that sustainable water resource management requires a comprehensive strategy emphasizing economic pricing, financial accountability, fuller participation of stakeholders, and greater attention to environmental concerns, and whose successful fulfillment will require the strong commitment and efforts of farmers, governments and donors.
Agriculture and Natural Resources