irrigation development

What We Can Do:

In many developing countries, the need for increased food production and water conservation calls for improved efficiency of water use in both existing and new irrigation systems. NHC normally addresses technical and administrative problems involving supplying, storing, and conveying water and delivering it to fields and crops. We also often enhance water management flexibility and the operation and maintenance of systems to suit the long-term requirements of farmers and irrigators.

Asia and Africa:
Alan Clark
+44 (0)7790041055
Latin America:
Mike Okun
Our key experts have extensive experience developing and improving irrigation systems, mostly in Asia and Africa. We have worked with both public and private clients to design irrigation systems for greater economic and social benefit for both small-scale farmers and large commercial enterprises.



Our irrigation services include planning, engineering design, and monitoring for both new and existing irrigation systems.

  • Planning and Feasibility Studies for New Projects
    We conduct topographic surveys, evaluate landforms and soils, analyze existing crop production, and forecast increased yields from irrigation. We also assess risks, economics, social and environmental impacts and their potential mitigation, as well as operation and maintenance requirements. We examine administrative options for participatory management, private-public partnerships, and cost recovery.
  • Planning for Improvement of Existing Schemes
    Besides our services to support new projects, we conduct diagnostic analysis of existing systems to identify values and constraints. We then identify and assess improvement opportunities and identify the most practical and effective options.
  • Engineering Design
    Our design capabilities and activities include both conceptual and detailed design of intakes, storage reservoirs, main canals, distribution canals and pipelines, and field outlets. We then can complete construction drawings, specifications, and tender documents. 
  • Project Implementation and Follow-up Activities
    These may include supervising or inspecting construction, designing modifications to suit encountered field conditions or to reduce costs, and evaluating future operation and maintenance needs.

Excavation for buried pipe
irrigation system (Bangladesh)

Prepaid energy meter for pumped irrigation


Over more than 30 years, our key personnel have developed new irrigation projects and modernized existing projects in Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Yemen, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Malawi, and Sudan. Current work includes a variety of projects in Bangladesh to benefit small farmers and a large project in Ethiopia to benefit both small and large-scale water users. Funding for these projects has come partly from international multi-lateral development agencies and partly from the private sector.

Technical Approach & Capabilities:

We typically conduct hydrologic, hydraulic, sediment, social, economic, environmental, and other investigations, together with data analysis and numerical modeling, in order to thoroughly understand physical conditions and resources, socio-economic and environmental needs, and constraints and opportunities related to institutions, management, and pricing for irrigation services. Engineering and other studies typically cover the progress and flow rates of irrigation water from sources to delivery points, considering ground elevations and gradients, conduits, storage and control structures, pumping systems, leakage and evaporation losses, erosion protection, and cross drainage. Increasing attention is given to automated and semi-automated systems for equitable control of water delivery and cost recovery.

Conceptual options are discussed with clients and stakeholders before proceeding to develop detailed designs of one or more selected options.

Benefits & Results:
Our extensive experience, technical expertise, and collaborative approach is designed to ensure the best possible solution for any irrigation project, within project-specific financial and other constraints. The results are cost-effective and durable facilities and systems that maintain and increase food and fiber production, user incomes, and employment.