UNESCO/IHE - Porous stone spillways

UNESCO/IHE - Porous stone spillways

MetaMeta and UNESCO-IHE jointly established the Spate Irrigation Network (SpN) in 2002 to bring the vital role of Flood-based Farming Systems (FBFS) to the attention of policymakers and donors, and share experiences and innovations to increase the knowledge base. Among the many innovations is the ‘porous stone spillways’ that have found widespread use in Pakistan and Yemen and have successfully reduced the frequency of failure of earthen diversion bunds, increased the opportunity for irrigation, minimized the damage to irrigable land and ultimately contributed to higher agricultural production.

Floods are not always a hazard – in some of the world’s poorest areas they are the main source of irrigation and food security. For decades, African and Asian lowland farmers have relied for their livelihood on FBFS that make use of occasional, short duration, often destructive floods. Their traditional earthen flood diversion bunds have, however, been frequently breached and although well organized, they have not always coped with the maintenance requirements. Consequently, poor crop yield years have become more frequent. FBFS, despite constituting poverty pockets and being significant, have been passed over in policy support, investment and by innovation as they are located in remote areas away from centres of power. They have up until the last decade been the forgotten bread baskets.

Locations: Pakistan, Yemen, Sudan, Ethiopia

Contact: Abraham Mehari (a.meharihaile@unesco-ihe.org)

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