Irrigation in the Nile Basin

Irrigation areas in Sudan

Scheme Name Cropped (ha) Equipped (ha)
Blue Nile System 909652 1319175.72
Abu Naama 0 12600
Pump schemes u/s of Sennar (inlcuding Shashena) 56700 75600
Hurga and nour-el-deen (Pump schemes as part of gezira) 9352 42000
Genaid (Sugar) 16800 22400
Seleit 6300 12600
Small Private Pump Schemes (through out blue nile) 75000 100000
Waha (Blue Nile) 9450 12600
Gezira – Managil (Al Jazira); c 588000 846720
Rahad I 98700 126000
Suki Scheme (Old and new) 28350 37800
NW Sennar Sugar Scheme 14700 22455.72
Guneid Extension (haddaf/wadel faddul) 6300 8400
White Nile System 79413 140259
Kenana Sugar Scheme 29988 39984
Kenana – mixed crop 4725 6300
Asalaya (sugar) 14700 18375
White Nile Pump Schemes 30000 75600
Atbara System  88200 210000
New Halfa;  75600 194250
New Halfa Sugar 12600 15750
Main Nile System  71400 95200
Merowe – Dongola; Main Nile Pump schemes 31500 42000
Hasanab – Merowe 8400 11200
Khartoum_Tamaniat_Hasanab 31500 42000

Sudan has the largest irrigated area in sub-Saharan Africa and the second largest in all Africa, after Egypt. The total estimated area fully equipped for irrigation is 1,764,635 ha and an estimated cropped area of 1,148,665 ha, i.e. an estimated cropping intensity of 65%. The irrigated sub-sector contributes more than 50% of the total volume of the agricultural production although the irrigated area constitutes only about 11% of the total cultivated land. It has become more and more important over the past few decades as a result of drought and rainfall variability and uncertainty.

The irrigated sector produces 95% of the long stable high quality cotton produced, 100% of sugar production, 36% of sorghum and 32% of groundnuts. Other main irrigated crops are fodder, wheat and vegetables with other crops comprising maize, sunflower, potatoes, roots and tubers and rice.

Irrigated agriculture falls into two broad categories: traditional and modern schemes. Traditional irrigation is practiced on the floodplains of the main Nile downstream of Khartoum and on substantial areas along the Blue and White Nile, and the Atbara river as well as on the Gash and Tokar deltas. Many schemes are fully equipped with infrastructure but have low cropping intensity due to scarcity of water during the long dry season. Large-scale gravity irrigation started more than 100 years ago and was characterized by the promotion of cotton production in the Nile Basin. Irrigation by pumping water began at the beginning of the 20th Century, substituting traditional flood irrigation and water wheel techniques.

The Gezira Scheme is Sudan’s oldest and largest gravity irrigation system, located between the Blue Nile and the White Nile. The scheme together with its extension of Managil scheme with a total equipped area of 846,772 ha is the largest single scheme in Sudan and one of largest irrigation schemes in the world. Nearly 75% of the total irrigation area is in the Blue Nile sub-basin in Sudan.

Started in 1925 and progressively expanded thereafter, it receives water from the Sennar Dam on the Blue Nile and is divided into some 114 000 tenancies.

The total net abstraction of water for irrigation from the Nile system is estimated at 13.3 BCM per year. The lion’s share of this amount is taken by the Gezira – Managil scheme with an estimated withdrawal of nearly 6.5 BCM followed by the New Halfa scheme with annual net abstraction of about 1.5 BCM.