This “serious game” is designed to make a group of farmers, who operate the same irrigated scheme, think about their irrigation management, in particular their rules for distributing water between plots and the daily pumping time.
In the Sahel, irrigated rice is cultivated by maintaining a 5 to 10 cm layer of water from sowing to maturity; draining is sometimes used for weeding and fertilizing. Before sowing or transplanting, this water layer must be installed in the plots. This “watering” consumes a lot of water since 10 cm of free water must be brought to each plot and saturate the soil over 50 cm or more. This first irrigation lasts much longer (2 to 4 times longer) than subsequent irrigations, for which the pumps are sized (according to the standard of 3 liters per hectare per hour). The entire irrigation scheme is therefore often watered for more than three weeks or even more than a month. This lengthens the operating time of the pump (and thus increases the cost of pumping) since irrigation must be maintained until the rice matures in the last plots sown.
The idea of the game is to confront farmers with the problem of how to distribute the volume of water pumped daily. Indeed, this volume makes it possible to put a limited number of plots in water every day. In addition, the water evaporates and must therefore be replenished in the first plots that are put in water, while other plots are still not filled with water.
The aim of the game is to get the players to think about the daily pumping time, the rules of water distribution, and any other subject related to irrigation management (maintenance of the pump and canals…).
The producers’ group is offered a day of reflection on water management within their perimeter. A game session with 7 to 8 players lasts 4 to 5 hours. It is preceded by a small individual survey. During a first game, the players reproduce their distribution rules. They then analyze the results: duration of watering, energy consumed for pumping, delay in irrigation in plots that no longer had a blade of water… The players then define new rules or the daily duration of pumping or the flow rate of the pump. A second game is used to test these rules. After a collective general discussion, a short individual survey allows to collect the players’ opinions on the session.
To know more about it: Meeting in Senegal, June 2020