Cambodia Irrigation Performance Assessment


Cambodia’s economy is largely based on the agricultural sector and rice production is central to this. However, rice productivity in Cambodia is low compared with surrounding countries despite the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) making significant efforts to increase the area available to irrigation.

Public policies designed to reduce rural poverty and increase household nutrition are creating renewed appetite for investment in irrigation systems. Concurrently, investors and government agencies are looking to justify the financial investments already made in irrigation scheme renewal. Justification has been challenging in the absence of reliable and contemporary data on the performance of irrigated agriculture and associated water delivery services.

The Cambodia Irrigation Performance Assessment activity was designed to be a first step in the development of an ongoing irrigation system performance assessment framework in Cambodia that has potential application across other countries throughout the Asia-Pacific. The initiative is also highly complementary to Australia’s flagship $90 million Cambodia-Australia Agricultural Value Chain Program (CAVAC) supported by DFAT.

This activity is part of the Next Generation Irrigation and Water Management for the Asia-Pacific Program (NextGen Program), an AWP-FAO program to modernise Asia’s irrigation systems and water management practices to help the FAO Member States achieve long-term, sustainable food security. The NextGen Program was established under the auspice of the multilateral UN FAO-DFAT-AWP Memorandum of Understanding which was established in 2017.


In response to a request for assistance by RGC, this activity aimed to build capacity within the Government by 1) building their awareness of modern approaches for measuring the performance of an irrigation scheme; 2) establishing a framework that is comprised of a core set of criteria for monitoring irrigation performance; 3) piloting the framework in a number of Cambodian irrigation schemes targeting areas to optimise gender equality and social inclusion; and 4) considering how the framework could be used to support modernisation of irrigation schemes and investment decision-making processes to support water operations and irrigation modernisation investment decisions in Cambodia and other developing countries, utilising best available tools, geospatial technologies, and management approaches.

This activity addresses much-needed human capital and strengthen networks in Cambodia to ensure that systems and methods which are developed during a subsequent implementation phase of this project are captured, sustained and upscaled.

Australia has a successful history of industry performance reporting and benchmarking, thus knowledge sharing and applying key learnings from the Australian experience to the local context is also a critical objective of the activity.


The key output from this activity is a piloted and ready-to-implement irrigation performance assessment framework for Cambodia that has potential application across Asia. The pilot is being undertaken at the Taking Krasaing Irrigation Scheme in Kampong Thom province and included a field survey and remote sensing exercise.

As part of the process of developing the framework, the activity is building irrigation capacity among the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology and the Institute of Technology of Cambodia. A study tour to Australia’s Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area allowed representatives to gain insights and learnings from Murrumbidgee Irrigation’s modernisation journey at various scales, and knowledge and information was exchanged between Australian and Cambodian irrigation districts, building stronger professional relationships.

Importantly, the outcomes from the activity is helping to assist the Ministry and investors to track the effectiveness of past investments, to build the confidence of potential investors in water infrastructure projects and to prioritise capital works for economic, social and environmental benefits.


Program Lead

Brett Tucker
Blackwatch Consulting


South-East Asia




Royal Government of Cambodia


Next Generation Irrigation and Water Management for the Asia-Pacific Program




Implementation (Oct 2019 – Dec 2020)


  • Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
  • Ministry of Economics and Finance, RGC
  • Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology, RGC
  • The Institute of Technology of Cambodia
  • Cambodia Agricultural Value Chain Program
  • Cambodia Committee on Irrigation and Drainage
  • Asian Development Bank
  • International Water Management Institute



  • Irrigation and Agriculture


  • Gender, water, and food synergies in support of the SDGs (660227.75)
  • Modernising Irrigated Agriculture to Protect and Restore Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in South East Asia (660978.26)