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Assessment Of Irrigation Performance In Large River Basins Under Data Scarce Environment - A Case Of Kabul River Basin, Afghanistan

Fazlullah Akhtar, Usman Khalid Awan, Bernhard Tischbein, Umar Waqas Liaqat

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The Kabul River basin (KRB) of Afghanistan, a lifeline of around 10 million people, has multiplicity of governance, management and development related challenges leading to inequity, inadequacy and unreliability of irrigation water distribution. Prior to any uplifting intervention, there is a need to evaluate the performance of irrigation system on long term basis to identify the existing bottlenecks. Although there are several indicators used for the performance evaluation of the irrigation schemes, but we used the coefficient of variation (CV) of actual evapotranspiration (ETa) in space (basin, sub-basin, and provincial level), relative evapotranspiration (RET) and temporal CV of RET to assess the equity, adequacy and reliability of water distribution respectively, from 2003 to 2013. The ETa was estimated through surface energy balance system (SEBS) algorithm and the ETa estimates were validated using advection aridity (AA) method with R2 value of 0.81 and 0.77 at Nawabad and Sultanpur stations respectively. The global land data assimilation system (GLDAS) and moderate-resolution imaging spectroradiometer (MODIS) products were used as main inputs to the SEBS. Results show that mean seasonal sub-based RET values during summer (May – September) (0.37 ± 0.06) and winter (October – April) (0.40 ± 0.08) are below the target values (RET ≥0.75) during 2003-2013. The CV of mean ETa within sub-basins and provinces for the entire study period has equitable distribution of water from October-January (0.09±0.04) whereas the highest inequity (0.24±0.08) in water distribution is during early summer. The range of the CV of mean ETa (0.04-0.06) on monthly and seasonal basis shows the unreliability of water supplies in several provinces or sub-basins. The analysis of temporal CV of mean RET highlights unreliable water supplies across the entire basin. The maximum ETa during the study period was estimated for Shamal sub-basin (552±43mm) while among provinces Kunar experienced the highest ETa (544±39mm). This study highlights the dire need for interventions to improve the irrigation performance in time and space. The proposed methodology can be used as a framework for monitoring and implementing the water distribution plans in future.