American Society of Civil Engineers

Potential of Irrigated Agriculture in Syria

by Adel F. Bichara, (Civ. Engr., Alexandria, Egypt)

Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management, Vol. 115, No. 3, May/June 1989, pp. 358-366, (doi:

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Document type: Journal Paper
Abstract: In the long term Syria has a high potential for development of irrigated agriculture. To define this potential, the available water and land resources are assessed. The total area of Syria is about 18.5 × 106 ha, of which only 618,000 ha are under irrigation and 3,117,000 ha are cropped under rainfed conditions. The available water resources in Syria are estimated at about 25 × 109 m³/yr taking into account the Syrian share of international rivers and excluding the Tigris River. Only 54% of the water volume is from the Euphrates, whereas the rest is divided between the Euphrates tributaries, other rivers, springs, and wells. At present only 8.9 × 109 m³/hr are being used, including 3.0 × 109 m³/hr, wasted to evaporation or to the sea. In order to fully utilize the available resources, around 1,500,000 ha may be irrigated. These will utilize about 20 × 109 m³/hr. This means increasing the area of irrigated land 150% in the future. This is a manageable target. If a rate of development of 80–100,000 ha per 5-yr plan is achieved, an expected development period of 40–50 yr would be required to develop the country’s resources. Present achievements in this regard are around 12,000 ha/hr only.

ASCE Subject Headings:
Irrigation practices
Irrigation systems
Land use
Middle East
Water resources