Awash basin is the only basin that operates with the concept of river basin management and irrigation water pricing in Ethiopia. The effectiveness and impacts of the current irrigation water pricing system in the basin has not been studied yet. Hence, the objective of this research is to evaluate effects of irrigation water pricing on scheme level water productivity in Awash River basin. Based on systematic selection criteria, 29 irrigation water users were selected from middle and upper Awash. Structured questionnaire and discussions have been used to generate the primary data. Scheme specific data such as area cultivated, amount of water diverted each year, water fee, service charge and operation and maintenance cost for primary irrigation canals of each legal water user in the basin for the last five consecutive production years (2005/2006-2009/2010) were collected from Awash Basin Authority. SPSS and CROPWAT were used to analyze the information gathered through questionnaires and irrigation water requirement respectively. Water productivity of cotton, sugarcane and onion was computed for total available water (excess rainfall + irrigation), irrigation water and water lost through crop evapotranspiration. The current irrigation water pricing in Awash basin seems to be low and does not encourage individual users in improving water productivity. Hence, it is resulted in low crop water productivity. Therefore, cost of irrigation water in Awash basin should have to be optimized with a well specified and revised pricing objective(s) if it has to influence the water productivity.
Key words: Irrigation, irrigation water pricing, water productivity, Awash basin.
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