Land & Water Development

The Land and Water Development Chair Group group deals with the technology of adapting and managing land and water resources for specific forms of land use in rural, urban and industrial areas. Its activities focus on the development of rural areas and the topics of irrigation, drainage and flood protection.

Research areas

The Land and Water Development group is working on the following linked research areas:

Water for food security

Food security is reached when people have access to sufficient and nutritious food for healthy life. Water plays an essential role in this. Firstly, to produce food an enormous quantity of water is needed. The production of a varied diet requires good water management. Secondly, access to productive use of water enhances incomes of millions of small farmers around the world. Sufficient income is a prerequisite for food security. Thirdly, access to safe drinking water and sanitation is essential to health and hence the capacity of the human body to absorb sufficient nutrients.

Our research in this area examines how and to what extent improved water management contributes to enhanced food security.

Key publications

  1. K.C. Birendra, Bart Schultz and Krishna Prasad. 2011. Water management and global food production. Irrigation and drainage 60(3)
  2. Mukherji, A.;T. Facon; C. de Fraiture, D. Molden, C. Chartres. 2012. Growing more food with less water: how can revitalizing Asia’s irrigation help? Water Policy. doi:10.2166/wp.2011.146
  3. De Fraiture, C. 2012. Water and food security in an insecure world. Inaugural Speech 8th May 2012. 39 pp. UNESCO-IHE: Delft, the Netherlands.
  4. M Giordano, T Shah, C de Fraiture, M Giordano 2012. Innovations in Agricultural Water Management: New Challenges Require New Solutions. In: Feeding a Thirsty World, 2012. SIWI: Stockholm, Sweden.
  5. Giordano, M.; C. de Fraiture; E. Weight; J. van der Bliek. 2012. Water for Wealth and food security: Supporting farmer-driven investment in agricultural water management. Synthesis Report of the AgWater Solutions Project. 38 pp. International Water Management Institute: Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Water use for food, ecosystems services and livelihoods

With population growth pressure on land and water resources is increasing and adverse environmental impacts of agricultural intensification are becoming more acute. This is particularly true in low lying flood prone areas, wetlands and other areas with high ecological value. Often there is tremendous pressure to develop these areas for various types of land use, often at the expense of ecosystems services provided by these natural areas. Rural livelihoods depending on these services may suffer.

This research aims at finding synergies between sustainable and equitable water use for agriculture, ecosystems services and local livelihoods. Topics include integrated lowland development and management; policies and mechanisms for sustainable water use; climate change and livelihoods.

Key publications

  1. Kuntiyawichai, Kittiwet, Bart Schultz, Stefan Uhlenbrook, F.X. Suryadi and A. van Griensven. Comparison of flood management options for the Yang River Basin, Thailand. Irrigation and Drainage 60.4, 2011.
  2. Megawaty, Robiyanto, H.S., Suryadi, F.X., Ngudiantoro. Optimizing operation and maintenance Telang II tidal reclamation schemein relation to agricultural development. Journal Agricultural Sciences, USA, Vol.3 No. 2. DOI 10.4236/as. 2012.32033
  3. Wrachien, Daniele de, Stefano Mambretti and Bart Schultz. Flood Management and Risk Assessment in Flood-prone Areas: Measures and Solutions. Irrigation and Drainage 60.2, 2011
  4. Schultz, Bart. Role of tidal lowlands for food production in the humid tropics. In: Water management for global food security by Chandra A. Madramootoo and Helen Fyles (eds.), McGill University, Ste. Anne de Bellevue, Canada, 2011.

Development and improvement of irrigation and drainage systems

With climate change and growing food demand, calls by governments and donors for more investment in irrigation are getting louder. Yet, a sizeable part of irrigation systems worldwide are performing under their potential. Sometimes the schemes are only partly used or abandoned due to problems in operation and maintenance. Circumstances have changed since schemes were built and schemes may no longer be adapted to users' needs and capacities. With governments less willing and able to subsidize irrigation, farmers themselves, organized in Water Users Associations, are expected to take over and pay for operation and maintenance. They can only do so if irrigation is profitable and the systems' O&M requirements are manageable and within farmers' capabilities. Increasingly farmers engage in individual informal irrigation activities.

This research area aims at developing approaches towards sustainable and profitable irrigation and drainage development. Specific research topics include optimized design (hydraulic systems, sediment, costs) and service oriented management, farmer driven irrigation development and flood based irrigation.

Key publications

  • Demissie, A.C., Mehari Haile, A., Schultz, B., 2012.  Optimum irrigation and pond operation to move away from exclusively rainfed agriculture: the Boru Dodota Spate Irrigation Scheme, Ethiopia. Irrigation Science.
  • Zeleke Agide Dejen, Bart Schultz and Laszlo Hayde. 2012. Comparative irrigation performance assessment in community-managed schemes in Ethiopia. African Journal for Agricultural Research (AJAR), Vol. 7, Issue 13, 2012.
  • Kamwamba-Mtethiwa, J., Namara, R., De Fraiture, C., Mangisoni, J., Owusu, E. 2012 Treadle Pump Irrigation in Malawi: Adoption, Gender and Benefits. Irrigation and Drainage. Available online 10 December 2012.
  • Embaye, T. G., Beevers, L., Mehari Haile, A., 2012. Dealing with sedimentation issues in spate irrigation systems. Irrigation and Drainage. 61: 220–230.
  • Mehari Haile, Abraham, Bart Schultz and Frank van Steenbergen. Modernization of spate irrigated agriculture. A new approach. Irrigation and Drainage 60.2, 2011.
  • Ritzema, Henk and Bart Schultz. Optimizing subsurface drainage practices in irrigated agriculture in the semi-arid and arid regions. Experiences from Egypt, India and Pakistan. Irrigation and Drainage 60.3, 2011.


The activities of the Land and Water Development Chair Group include postgraduate education (to MSc and PhD levels) and research, as well as implementing or participating in projects dealing with education, capacity building and research on land and water development.

Staff members

PhD fellows