Promoting Gender Equality for Poverty Reduction Through Improved Irrigation Management

Project Result / Case Study | 31 March 2004

This Pilot and Demonstration Activities (PDA) documented the impact of sprinkler/drip irrigation in promoting gender equality in irrigation and undertook trial innovations with women farmers to increase productivity.


Project site Nepal
Cost US$ 45,000
Status Completed
Approval date May 2003
Completion date March 2004
Category Rural
ADB officer Kenichi Yokoyama
Partner Department of Agriculture Development Office and Department of Women Development

Report card

Completed in March 2004, this PDA

  • Demonstrated the potential of drip irrigation technology in water scarce hilly and mountainous areas for improving rural livelihoods
  • Showed the appropriateness of drip irrigation to women farmers as it is built on women’s traditional farming practices
  • Prompted the Government of Nepal and ADB to agree on a US$600,000 drip irrigation project, complimenting another project on the development of a Community-Managed Agriculture and Irrigation Sector
  • Raised the interest of an agency in Cambodia to replicate the activity

Read the final report


Rural poverty has a woman’s face. Small and poor quality land with commensurate low yields has forced male migration in search of wage labor. Reducing rural poverty, therefore, means increasing the capacity of women to cope with the vagaries of weather.

This PDA introduced drip irrigation, a pro-rural, pro-poor, and pro-women technology, in Nepal, which has transformed subsistence households into cash-crop-producing farm units with increased benefits to women and poorer farmers. It was reported to be particularly suited to women farmers as they build on women’s existing farming practices particularly in vegetable gardening. The innovative micro-irrigation system was so successful that today, there is increased equality between genders, reduced poverty, and improved livelihoods in Nepal's rural areas.

Expected outcomes

  • Improved women’s technical knowledge on efficient water use
  • Increased women to women extension services provided
  • Increased social capital of women as a group
  • More even spread of demand for agricultural labor leading to reduced male migration with positive social impacts to women and children
  • Improved cultural practices: better soil and water management
  • Opportunities for assistance identified for large-scale adoption and diffusion
  • Increased household food security and more balanced nutritional intake
  • Women increasingly involved in household decision-making
  • Increased women’s control over resources