Groundwater irrigation reduces overall poverty but increases socioeconomic vulnerability in a semiarid region of southern India

The development of irrigation is generally considered an efficient way to reduce poverty in rural areas, although its impact on the inequality between farmers is more debated. In fact, assessing the impact of water management on different categories of farmers requires resituating it within the different dimensions of the local socio-technical context. This study, led by Chloé Fischer, tested this hypothesis in a semiarid area in Karnataka, South India, where groundwater irrigation was introduced five decades ago. Using the conceptual framework of comparative agriculture, based on farmers’ interviews, the authors built a farm typology, traced the trajectories of farm types over the last decades, and assessed their current technical and economic performances. The results show that the differentiation of farm trajectories since the 1950s has been linked with the development of groundwater irrigation, interplaying with their initial assets, and the evolution of the national and local contexts. The authors highlight the mechanisms by which irrigation indeed reduces poverty but engenders fragilities, particularly for poor households, whose situation was aggravated by the depletion of water resources over the last two decades. Finally, this extensive understanding of the agrarian context allowed to formulate and assess the potential of different ways forward, including irrigation technology, change in cropping or livestock systems, land tenure, and value added distribution. As such, this analysis would be of major interest to policy makers involved in reforming the agricultural context for better agricultural water management.

This paper has been published open access in the journal Scientific Reports.

More news

Village settlements in mountainous tropical areas, hotspots of fecal contamination as evidenced by Escherichia coli and stanol concentrations in storm water pulses

Little is known about the contribution of villages to the fecal contamination of surface water in tropical rural areas. This study, published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, documents E. coli and stanol concentration levels in surface runoff, and tracks the origin of the fecal contamination during flood events.

Effects of climate and anthropogenic changes on current and future variability in flows in the So’o River Basin (south of Cameroon)

Due to climate and environmental changes, sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has experienced several drought and flood events in recent decades with serious consequences on the economy of the sub-region. In this context, the region needs to enhance its capacity in water resources management, based on both good knowledge of contemporary variations in river flows and reliable […]

Escherichia coli concentration, multiscale monitoring over the decade 2011–2021 in the Mekong River basin, Lao PDR

Bacterial pathogens in surface waters may threaten human health, especially in developing countries, where untreated surface water is often used for domestic needs. The objective of the long-term multiscale monitoring of Escherichia coli concentration in stream water, and that of associated variables (temperature, electrical conductance, dissolved oxygen concentration and saturation, pH, oxidation-reduction potential, turbidity, and […]