Improving Irrigation Water Use in the Punjab Province of Pakistan by Raising Flexibility and Integrating Surface and Groundwater Resources


irrigation scheduling, water productivity, Warabandi, Pakistan




The current management of the large and complex irrigation systems in Punjab follows a strict rotation principle (’Warabandi’), which makes water available to farmers in recurring periods with volumes allotted according to farm size. Basically, the Warabandi-system offers advantages to the users in terms of equity, understandability and transparency. However, it lacks flexibility to respond to an increasingly variable environment and its capability to fulfill site-specific requirements is limited. Given this context, the project aims at working out options for a more flexible and demand-oriented irrigation scheduling. Raising flexibility would strengthen capability to react on temporal variability of available water resources (quantity and quality), groundwater level and quality and rainfall. Demand-oriented approaches would enable a closer fulfilling of spatially divers water requirements depending mainly on soil and crop characteristics and features of the irrigation systems and techniques.


The research is based on an approach combining following methods:

(i) linking the information gained from Remote Sensing tools, databases on the irrigation system and complementary field work;
(ii) processing the data with the help of Geographical Information Systems (GIS);
(iii) applying soil-water-atmosphere-crop models in combination with irrigation scheduling models to work out flexible irrigation schemes that can integrate surface and groundwater resources;
(iv) cooperating at an early stage with water managers and farmers to assess options towards implementation of flexible irrigation schedules and to clarify how to assist water users at farm level by utilizing demand-based irrigation approaches.

The project gives high priority to capacity building (handling of: remote sensing techniques, Geographical Information Systems, hydrological modeling tools) and jointly learning (water managers/practitioners, scientists, farmers).

Main Cooperation Partners

  • University of Agriculture Faisalabad-Pakistan;
  • Arid Agriculture University Rawalpindi-Pakistan;
  • Punjab Irrigation and Power Department-Pakistan;
  • International Water Management Institute Lahore-Pakistan;
  • University of Wuerzbug;
  • Center for Development Research (ZEF)
Main Funding Partners


Duration of the Project

9/2011 – 12/2013


Bernhard Tischbein

Dr. Bernhard Tischbein


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