Dera Ismail Khan district in Pakhtunwada province, Pakistan, was hit hard by the destructive floods of 2010. Apart from the severe losses to lives and property, spate irrigation systems across the region were destroyed. These systems are critical to agriculture in the semi-arid region, enabling farmers to divert annual floods and spread them over their fields. A total of 1.5 million hectares in the region is under spate irrigation.
In early 2011, Swiss Development Corporation and Pakistan Agricultural Research Council initiated a project to restore the spate irrigation structures—such as bunds, dams and spillways—in time for the annual floods expected later that year. When the floods did hit in August, the restored structures resisted them well, and were even able to channelize them to areas that had been irrigated for over 20 years.
In this interview, Noman Sadozai from Pakistan Agricultural Research Council, takes us through the engineering and sociological challenges he faced as part of the team that implemented the project.