Smallholder farmers in northern Ghana face a number of water-related challenges. Soil fertility is inherently low and in decline due to continuous cropping. Erratic rainfall patterns result in alternating floods and droughts, and there are limited small-scale irrigation technologies to bridge farmer family income and food security during 6-monthly dry season.
Some of these challenges could be addressed through better water management practices. For example, rainwater harvesting or sourcing groundwater through shallow wells for supplementary irrigation during the rainy season. This enables farmers in northern Ghana to increase the productivity of their crop and livestock farming systems. They can grow vegetables in the dry-season when they are in strong demand and the higher prices will provide important income for better livelihoods during the dry season.
The International Water Management Institute (IWMI) leads the research-for-development (R4D) component which is focused on improving water management strategies for sustainable crop-livestock production. Research began in 2011 and is expected to be completed in 2016. IWMI, in collaboration with partners, is also promoting use of small-scale irrigation technologies in northern Ghana. The irrigation delivery technologies include water cans, tanks with hoses for overhead irrigation, and bucket-drip irrigation. Water lifting technologies include water cans, motorized pumps and solar pumps.