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Sustainable land management technologies: water management



Water management is the management of water resources, including ground-, surface- and rain water, to promote efficient use and protect water resources from pollution and over-exploitation. This also includes the removal of excess water from the ground surface or from the root zone. Water management can be applied in many different ways, depending on the overall sustainable land management (SLM) objective, and includes the use of sustainable irrigation systems, water harvesting, and drainage. The technology can be applied to land use types where water resources are present, such as cropland and forest/woodland.


According to the report on sustainable land management (SLM) by the UNCCD Science-Policy Interface (SPI), water management can help to increase the soil’s capacity to receive, retain, release and transmit water, and can reduce soil erosion. Improving water quality and use efficiency can be seen as both a climate change adaptation and a mitigation measure. For example, sustainable irrigation systems in arid and semi-arid conditions could be considered an adaptation strategy for drought and could also lead to water and financial savings.

Examples of SLM best practices in water management

Below are examples of best practices in water management cited in the report on SLM by the SPI.

Cascading rock irrigation channel

The cascading rock Irrigation channel is constructed with stones on rocky slopes to capture surface water runoff from the mountains and channel it to the valley floor, where it can be utilised for human use such as drinking water, sanitation, and irrigation.


A Californian network is a micro-irrigation system developed in California and was adapted to work with Malian irrigation systems. It uses a pump unit that feeds in water from a river or borehole. The technical objective is to use water more efficiently and increase yields.

Roof rainwater harvesting

Roof rainwater harvesting is a system where water is stored in an underground water tank. Rainwater flowing over the roof is collected, for example, on galvanised iron roofs. The technology is critical in semi-arid environments where water shortages are common.


Read about other SLM technology groups


vegetation management

grazing pressure management

animal waste management sustainable forest management

reducing deforestation

afforest_reforestation forest restoration agroforestry agro-pastoralism

minimum soil disturbance

soil erosion control fire pest and diseases control    


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