Small Irrigation Programme (SIP)

Project completed

Incidence of poverty in irrigated areas of Nepal is half that in rain-fed areas and access to irrigation water contributes thus to mitigate poverty. Since the marginal lands are better accessible through small irrigation schemes, reducing poverty of smallholder farmers through small irrigation systems[1] are more effective than medium-sized or large systems. SIP will not only help increase their agricultural productivity but will also enhance the capacity of national and local government so that they can respond to these needs.

[1] Small-scale irrigation, defined by the GoN's irrigation policy as command areas smaller than 25 ha in the hills and mountains and 200 ha in Terai.


Country/region Topic Period Budget
Agriculture & food security
Employment & economic development
Agricultural water resources
Employment creation
Water sector policy
01.02.2014 - 31.12.2020
CHF  18’800’000

In spite of agriculture making up 35 percent of Nepal’s GDP and absorbing 76 % of the labour force, agricultural production has barely kept up with the demands of its growing population over the past decade. Overall cereal output increased by 15.9 %, whereas the consumption requirement increased by more than 20.8 %. If current production growth rates remain constant and requirement continues to increase, it is likely that in the next 3-5 years Nepal will become consistently food deficit at the national level. Pressure on vegetable and other cash crop production is equally severe.

The total land area of Nepal is 14.7 million ha of which some 2.64 mio ha are under cultivation of which 1.77 mio ha are irrigable. Approximately 1.28 mio ha are provided with some type of irrigation facility. Only 38% of irrigated land has a year round water supply. In the 9 programme districts, an estimated 71,000 ha out of the total agriculture area of 234,000 ha are provided with some form of irrigation. Much less of it has a year round irrigation.



The programme’s goal is ‘Rural poor especially the disadvantaged groups (DAGs) increase their agricultural income.’ It is foreseen that in the areas of intervention per capita agricultural income increases by 40% and the reduction of poverty by 10% (from 25% to 22.5%).

Target groups

The major target beneficiaries will be the 25,000 subsistence households (approx. 125,000 persons), including 10% women headed household in the nine programme districts, who will benefit as irrigation users and producers as well as involvement in decision making processes and irrigation system constructions

Medium-term outcomes

Outcome 1: Small farmers especially from disadvantaged groups increase their productivity by managing and maintaining farmers managed irrigation systems (FMIS).

Outcome 2: National (DoLIDAR), and Local Governments (DDCs/VDCs) respond to priority needs for Farmers Managed Irrigation Systems (FMIS)



Expected results:  

The Outputs related to Outcome 1 are as follows:

Output 1.1: Small farmers and DAGs build and / or rehabilitate 1800 Farmers Managed Small Irrigation Systems (FMIS) with a command area of 15’000 hectares.

Output 1.2: Water User Associations (WUAs) strengthen their capacity to manage irrigation systems in a socially inclusive, sustainable, and equitable manner.

Output 1.3: (A network of) rural service extension providers strengthens their capacity to provide extension services to the farmers in the vicinity of FMIS.

The Outputs related to Outcome 2 are as follows:

Output 2.1: DoLIDAR strengthens its capacity to lead the sector and manage and monitor the project activities.

Output 2.2: DDCs/VDCs strengthen their capacity to plan, facilitate and implement FMIS in an inclusive and poverty sensitive way.


Results from previous phases:  

Availability of irrigation throughout the year is of outstanding importance for improving livelihoods of farmers. 269 completed schemes and 95 ongoing schemes covering 2'700 hectares of land increase irrigated land by 2’347 hectares help to increase food sufficiency by 50 to 100%.

Increased and diversified production improves the diet and through marketing of surplus, farmers increased their income partly by more than 100%. There is reasonable evidence that the impact of the intervention is tangible enough for villagers to reduce migration.

A positive overall impact on the local economy through the construction of irrigation schemes, which has also been positively skewed to the benefit of the poor and other Dis-Advantaged Groups. It is in line with the District Development Plans of the participating districts and with policy options being discussed for the new Agriculture Development Strategy.


Directorate/federal office responsible SDC
Credit area Development cooperation
Project partners Contract partner
Private sector
  • Foreign private sector South/East

Coordination with other projects and actors



Budget Current phase Swiss budget CHF    18’800’000 Swiss disbursement to date CHF    18’105’122
Project phases Phase 2 01.01.2020 - 31.12.2024   (Current phase)

Phase 1 01.02.2014 - 31.12.2020   (Completed)