Yemen Flood-Based Livelihoods Network

LocationWater and Environment Centre, Sana’a
Coordinator: Dr. Sharafaddin Saleh – sharafaddens(at) or sharaf1960s(at)

The initiative for the Yemen Spate Irrigation Network was taken in September 2006. By now there are over 100 members and a secretariat is formed at the Water and Environment Centre of the University of Sana’a. Dr Sharafaddin Saleh is the acting coordinator.

The network wants to be a focal point for sharing practical experiences and ideas in improving spate irrigated areas in a broad sense: in water management, in agronomy, in conjunctive use and in local institutions. For the initial document, click here.

A 7 to 10 day training package on spate irrigation has also been prepared, bringing together experiences on spate irrigation in Yemen and other countries. The CD with the modules can be ordered (free of charge) through info(at) The Training Modules are also available on this website. The Yemen Network is now working on a follow up training.

Persons who are interested to join the Yemen Spate Irrigation Network are invited to do so via the Spate Irrigation Community section on this website.

Yemen Overview 2011 and Plans 2012


Background Spate Irrigation in Yemen

Spate irrigation has a long history in Yemen and many people are of the opinion of that spate irrigation has been ‘invented’ in Yemen. Certainly the Marib Dam – which was the backbone of the empire of the Queen of Sheba is testimony to a long history.

Currently spate irrigation still accounts for 11% of the agricultural area in the country. Spate irrigation moreover is closely associated with groundwater recharge.

In the Red Sea Coast area (Tihama and close to Aden) there are series of large wadi systems. Many of these systems were modernized in the seventies and eighties (and in some wadis it still continues). This modernization consisted of large civil engineering works, controlling water at a single point. This modernization by and large has not been successful. It exacerbated inequity and caused sedimentation of the command area. Public sector organizations took over operation and maintenance, but over time these were faced with increasingly inadequate budgets.

The spate systems in Hadramawt and in the interior of the country are generally smaller. Support of these systems has also been by way of civil engineering improvements on headworks. In these smaller systems this has generally given less problems with distribution and sedimentation, yet also here opportunities in improving water distribution and strengthening local management have not been utilized.

There is now a cautious movement towards farmer participation in Yemen, but still there is relatively little understanding and experience of:

  • different models of spate irrigation development;
  • strengthening farmer management;
  • improved water distribution in the command area;
  • improved on farm water management and agronomy.
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