Water-Wise: Smart Irrigation Strategies in SOUTH AFRICA



South Africa’s strong institutional frameworks demonstrate the country’s commitment to increasing irrigation uptake. Although the 2017/18 drought significantly impacted the country, the government’s response offers lessons for other countries looking to build and strengthen their own institutions and policies on irrigation and water management. 

While hardly any smallholder land is irrigated and only moderate progress in irrigation development has been made, South Africa has huge potential in irrigation development. The country’s total irrigated area was approximately 1.3 million hectares (ha) in 2014/15, which constitutes 10 percent of cultivated land. The country is home to around a quarter million irrigators, including about 32,000 smallholder farmers. The latter accounted for about 3 percent of all area equipped for irrigation in 2010. The 2018 Biennial Review Report by the African Union revealed that South Africa is currently not on track to meet Malabo Commitment area #3.1, “Access to agriculture inputs and technologies,” given its score of 3.02 out of 10, which falls well below the 2017 minimum score of 5.53.

Download full case study below.