Drip irrigation Realities in Perspective (DRiP)

In response to increasing water scarcity, water saving technologies such as drip irrigation receive a lot of interest.

Mediterranean countries promote the transfer to drip to increase water use productivities, whereas in developing countries governments and donors also promote affordable drip kits for smallholder farmers to combat poverty. In spite of this policy enthusiasm, field observations suggest that drip just works in some places and for some farmers. Also, the introduction of or transfer to drip implies a system transition in agriculture, the wider implications of which remain as yet unknown.

Aim of the project

This research programme sets out to systematically analyse the conditions under which drip irrigation ‘works’, for whom and at what costs, from an explicitly interdisciplinary framework that considers technology and society as mutually constitutive. It combines:
  • A historical ethnographic analysis of the social construction of the design and promotion of drip irrigation, analysing how the hopes and ideas of different actors become embodied in the technology.
  • A multi-country comparison of the adoption of this technology, looking at different ways in which technical and social-cultural elements become aligned in hydrosocial networks.
  • Two in-depth studies of the impacts of drip irrigation at different scales in Morocco and Burkina Faso, analysing benefits and costs and how these are distributed.
  • A meta-level ethical discussion about the desirability of the changes and development drip entails.

Results will directly feed back into re-designs through the explicit creation of spaces for joint learning with stakeholders at different levels during the research process. This project is financed by NWO and more information about the project on the NWO projectsite.


The programme is worked out through three PhD researches and a team of researchers:

  • Saskia van der Kooij: Drip irrigation in Morocco from a users' perspective.
  • Lisa Bossenbroek: Drip beyond innovation and adaption: rural transformations in the Gharb, Morocco.
  • Jonas Wanvoeke: Shifting From Traditional to Drip irrigation in Burkina Faso: Myths or Realities?