Pilot project of Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) in Madagascar


  • Launched: march 2014 / Duration: 2 years / Budget: 58 000 €




Future perimeter of the Zambazamba sources channeling - © Etc Terra

According to the FAO, agricultural production has to increase by 70% by 2050 to meet the growing global demand for food and it will have to double in developing countries. The necessary increase in production will continue to deplete water resources, already widely affected in some regions by the effects of climate change.
Madagascar is more exposed to these issues given the high prevalence of irrigated rice cultivation which is practiced by about 2 million households on some 1.2 million hectares, or 60% of the cultivated area. In addition, the vast majority of Malagasy rice has a very low water control with rudimentary infrastructure, which partly explains their low yields and ongoing contention between irrigation water and Potable Water Conveyance (PWC).
Having been involved for several years in PWC and sanitation projects in the Haute-Matsiatra region, the Greater Lyon and the Rhone-Mediterranean-Corsica Water Agency, with the support of the French Embassy in Madagascar, wished to fund a pilot project of Integrated Water Resource Management.



The project aims to reduce the impact of farming, forest and pastoral activities on water resources of the municipality of Nasandratrony through the following activities:

  • Participatory development of a management plan for the Zambazamba watershed (100 ha), where the source supplying the town of Nasandratrony will be captured;
  • Protection and enhancement of upstream water resources: 20 hectares of agro- forestry systems will be implemented, especially close to the source in order to densify vegetation and promote filtration of water at the expense of runoff;
  • Efficient use of downstream water resources through the promotion of Systems of Rice Intensification (SRI) for 50 producers in order to significantly reduce the consumption of irrigation water, optimizing the use of water for market gardening crops, and maintaining soil humidity by reducing evaporation, filtration and improvement of water storage capacity: drip-drop systems, ground cover, organic inputs, etc;
  • Impact measurement will focus on the definition of the initial state of "rainfall / flow" correlations both at the source and at the outflow of the Zambazamba watershed. In the coming years, measurements will assess, at constant rainfall, the improvement of the above correlations.


View achievements on the geoportal dedicated to the project



3D view of the Zambazamba watershed - © Etc Terra




Environmental benefits

  • Water: reducing pressure on resources and even increasing the availability of water;
  • Biodiversity: increase local biodiversity through the promotion of agro-ecological practices and the introduction of new agro-forestry species;
  • Carbon: emission reduction of greenhouse gas emissions through the promotion of SRI, CO2 sequestration in both biomass of introduced species and soil


Social benefits :

  • Increase producer incomes accompanied in the evolution of production systems
  • Limitation of use conflicts between drinking water and irrigation water



  • The RHONE-MEDITERRANEAN CORSICA WATER AGENCY, the FRENCH EMBASSY IN MADAGASCAR and the GRAND LYON co-finance the project, the GRAND LYON also supports the implementation of the PWC component COMMON NASANDRATRONY
  • ETC TERRA provides overall coordination of the project and implements activities to measure the impact of the project
  • AGRISUD INTERNATIONAL implements activities related to the protection and efficient use of water resources
  • This joint implementation is carried out in close collaboration with the MUNICIPALITY of NASANDRATRONY and with the UPPER-MATSIATRA REGION which coordinates interventions of the Malagasy public partners.


Zambazamba pictures are available on Facebook