Handbook for Scaling Irrigation Systems

Handbook for Scaling Irrigation Systems is a joint publication between IFAD and IFC designed to present best practices, case studies, and hands-on guidelines on small-scale irrigation (SSI) for better soil and water management in the context of small-scale agriculture, with a particular focus on Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. The handbook is also a call to action for stakeholders in this ecosystem. It spotlights the integrative approach required from the public and private sectors to create a more equitable and attractive agricultural sector, including farmers, private companies, irrigation equipment providers, agri-finance institutions, agriculture-focused government institutions, water and resource planning agencies, and development partners.


  • Chapter 1 introduces SSI systems, outlining the various contexts in which SSI is practiced, the potential of SSI to improve quality of life and enhance incomes, and challenges to expand use of irrigation and achieve benefits at scale in developing countries.
  • Chapter 2 outlines the elements of design, development, operation, and management of SSI
  • Chapter 3 addresses asset management planning (AMP) for irrigation and drainage (I&D), which is key to increasing irrigation performance of systems which include infrastructure and equipment requiring maintenance and replacement.
  • Chapter 4 addresses SSI operation models, highlighting various contexts and outlining successful approaches.
  • Chapter 5 presents the business case for structuring irrigation financing products for smallholder farmers, outlines barriers, discusses several opportunities for stakeholders (smallholder farmers, commercial producers, financial service providers, governments, development partners, agricultural input suppliers and agribusinesses in irrigated value chains),
  • Chapter 6 identifies pathways for transforming SSI. The chapter discusses the tools and practices needed and how they must continually evolve to meet the challenges arising from growing competition for water resources.