Agriculture employs more Yemenis than any other sector and spate irrigation is the largest source of irrigation water. Spate irrigation however is growing increasingly difficult to sustain in many areas due to water scarcity and unclear sharing of water amongst users. In some areas of Yemen, there are no institutionalised water allocation rules which can lead to water related disputes. Here, we propose a proof-of-concept model to evaluate the impacts of different water allocation patterns to assist in devising allocation rules. The integrated model links simple wadi flow, diversion, and soil moisture-yield simulators to a crop decision model to evaluate impacts of different water allocation rules and their possible implications on local agriculture using preliminary literature data. The crop choice model is an agricultural production model of irrigation command areas where the timing, irrigated area and crop mix is decided each month based on current conditions and expected allocations. The model is applied to Yemen’s Abyan Delta, which has the potential to be the most agriculturally productive region in the country. The water allocation scenarios analysed include upstream priority, downstream priority, equal priority (equal sharing of water shortages), and a user-defined mixed priority that gives precedence to different locations based on the season. Once water is distributed according to one of these allocation patterns, the model determines the profit-maximising plant date and crop selection for 18 irrigated command areas. This aims to estimate the impacts different water allocation strategies could have on livelihoods. Initial results show an equal priority allocation is the most equitable and efficient, with 8% more net benefits than an upstream scenario, 10% more net benefits than a downstream scenario, and 25% more net benefits than a mixed priority.
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