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Irrigation development and its socioeconomic impact on rural communities in Malawi


  • Bryson Gwiyani-Nkhoma


The 'green revolution' of the 1950s advocated irrigation schemes as one way of achieving food security globally. Evidence from the Likangala and Domasi irrigation schemes in Malawi suggests, however, that irrigation schemes that were developed after the pattern of the 'green revolution' had adverse effects on the socioeconomic status of Malawi's rural communities, disrupting local economies, exposing local farmers to water related diseases, and relocating communities away from their ancestral land without due compensation. The production of rice, expansion of rural sources of income, and growth of towns associated with irrigation schemes were limited in quality and quantity and benefited only a few privileged farmers on the schemes. This paper strongly recommends the recognition of local structures and systems, and minimal dependency on donor support, if irrigation farming is to improve the welfare of rural communities in Malawi.

Suggested Citation

  • Bryson Gwiyani-Nkhoma, 2011. "Irrigation development and its socioeconomic impact on rural communities in Malawi," Development Southern Africa, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 28(2), pages 209-223.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:deveza:v:28:y:2011:i:2:p:209-223
    DOI: 10.1080/0376835X.2011.570068

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