New water rights for basin management and inclusivity in spate irrigated areas of Pakistan

Spate irrigation is a unique water resource system that makes productive use of short duration floods in dry river beds. It is common in Pakistan, covering an area of 1 million ha.

The project aims to contribute towards the re-setting of water distribution rules in target command areas, thereby promoting efficient water use in agriculture for better livelihood opportunities. It is envisioned that the systems are brought up to date after changes made to main headworks and resource use, thereby optimizing their overall productivity and promoting their inclusivity, especially for the weakest downstream users. In addition a whole range of improvements – related to crop agronomy, livestock keeping, small mechanization and water storage, based on proven experiences elsewhere in similar water systems will be introduced through farmer groups.

The project works in two spate systems in Pakistan being Bhag Narri in Balochistan Province and Nai Gaj in Sindh Province. Together the two spate systems cover an area of 130,000 ha.

The following are the anticipated project outcomes:

  • Outcome 1: Improved and equitable utilisation of productive floodwater, by building partnership among upstream and downstream water engaging communities;
  • Outcome 2: Higher and more equitable returns from flood flows between command areas of selected river basins, as a result of water productivity increases;
  • Outcome 3: Expanded profitable business opportunities for floodwater users as a result of increased production of commercial crops (guar, sorghum, oil seeds);
  • Outcome 4: Creating new livelihood opportunities and increase the productivity of flood-based agriculture and livestock rearing in the two sub-basins;
  • Outcome 5: Approach and methods shared and introduced in other basins that depend on flood flows.

Project summary

Project number:
Total budget:
€ 943,058
Project status:
Budget spent:
82.64 %
Sustainable Water Fund (FDW)
Tied status:
Partially tied
Project partners:
Netherlands Enterprise Agency, Research and Development Foundation, Sindh Irrigation and Drainage Authority, SPO (Strengthening Participatory Organization), Metameta Research B.V., Irrigation Department, Government of Balochistan Province, Pakistan
River basins development