Updated Jul 10, 2019

Natural Rock Head Tanks for Gravity Irrigation in Montane East Africa

Part of University of California, Davis

A method of reducing head tank costs by using natural rock structures in montane regions.


Abraham Salomon

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Stage 4: Transition to Scale

This innovation has been piloted successfully in Lwasso Subcounty, Mbale District, Eastern Uganda

Focus Areas:

Water Management

Water ManagementSEE LESS

Implemented In:



Country Implemented In
Verified Funding


Gravity irrigation systems can be an important way of offering farmers pressurized irrigation that drastically reduces labor time and reduces injury in irrigation, however intake works can be very expensive to set up.



This is a method of reducing the materials cost of constructing a head tank or intake to a gravity irrigation system in mountainous areas in East Africa. Areas upslope of the irrigation area are surveyed for natural rock structures that could be closed off with minimal concrete. A diversion for water to enter the rock structure is created, and concrete is poured to seal off the bottom and edges of ricks. A spillway is constructed and vegetation is planted for erosion control.

Target Beneficiaries

Smallholder Farmers

Mission and Vision

To reduce labor and improve uptake of irrigation in Uganda and East Africa

Innovation Description

An irrigation system diverting water from an upslope stream using a head tank built in natural rock, pressurizing water through a grid of pipe for farmers to use with drag hose or sprinkler irrigation.

Competitive Advantage

This innovation reduces the cost of developing gravity irrigation systems compared to traditional concrete structures

Planned Goals and Milestones

To roll out this technology in additional sites in East Africa
Funding Goal50,000
Projected Cumulative Lives Impacted192
New Implemented CountriesUganda

The Team Behind the Innovation

Kate Scow- Professor of Soil Science and Microbial Ecology in the Department of Land, Air and Water Resources, University of California, DavisAbraham Salomon - Project manager of 'Innovations in Dry Season Horticulture' in Uganda. Betty Ikalany - Executive Director, Teso Womens Development Initiative. Rajab Namakhola - District Agricultural Engineer, Mbale District.



Date Unknown
New Country Implemented In