Upscaling of solar pump drip and sprinkler irrigation systems in the Indus Basin

09:00 Thursday 30 May


Room S13


Hester Biemans (Netherlands) 1; Christian Siderius (Netherlands) 1; Bashir Ahmad (Pakistan) 2

1 - Wageningen University and Research; 2 - Pakistan Agricultural Research Council

The Indus Basin is one of the most water stressed basins in the world. Climate change will add further stress. The upstream mountain ranges in the basin are particularly susceptible to global warming, reducing the volume of glaciers and the seasonal pattern of snow fall and melt with strong shifts in both absolute runoff as well as in seasonality projected. This, in combination with large parts of the population still poor and vulnerable, make it a climate change and development hotspot where achieving the SDGs by 2030 will be extremely challenging, and science-supported adaptation needs to be tested and implemented urgently.

In the (HI-AWARE project) we have developed a high-resolution cryosphere-hydrology-crop model for the entire Indus Basin, in order to better understand the drivers of water scarcity. This modelling system is state-of-the-art in its representation of glacier and snow-melt processes, dam operation, irrigation through canals and groundwater withdrawal, with heterogeneity in crop yields driven by climate and varying management practices. At the same time, extensive fieldwork has been done to test innovative flexible high-efficiency irrigation techniques. These field tests have been very successful and show promising scope for large scale implementation to boost agricultural production and SDG implementation in Pakistan.

What is clearly still lacking, however, is a good understanding of the basin scale impacts when these practices will be actively promoted and widely implemented. Large scale implementation upstream might have negative consequences for water availability downstream, or lead to further depletion of scarce groundwater resources.

This study approach combines the latest developments in modelling with the data collected in the different field sites. We will show a series of maps and graphs to show the potential and impacts of different upscaling scenarios. More in general we will discuss if and how high resolution models can be combined with pilots to evaluate upscaling potential and impacts of measures under different climate and socio-economic scenarios.