A scoping review of research funding for small-scale farmers in water scarce regions


Water scarcity is a global issue that disproportionately affects small-scale farmers in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Through geospatial analysis, we estimated that less than 37% of small-scale farms probably have irrigation in water scarce regions across LMICs, compared with 42% of non-small-scale farms. Through a literature synthesis assisted by machine learning, we then systematically mapped the existing research for on-farm interventions that improve the incomes or yields of small-scale farmers in water scarce regions. We mapped over 888 on-farm interventions used to combat water scarcity from 560 publications and showed a research bias towards yields rather than livelihoods. We found gaps in evidence for many commonly proposed solutions, including livestock management, digital technology and solutions to protect natural resources at the farm-level, such as buffer strips. Our findings can be used to set a funding agenda for research on the geographies that are most at risk of water scarcity and the interventions that most lack evidence.


Ricciardi, V., Wane, A., Singh, B.S., Goode, C., Solomon, D., McCullough, E., Diekmann, F., Porciello, J., Jain, M., Randall, N. and Mehrabi, Z. 2020. A scoping review of research funding for small-scale farmers in water scarce regions. Nature Sustainability 3: 836–844


  • Ricciardi, V.
  • Wane, Abdrahmane
  • Singh, B.S.
  • Goode, C.
  • Solomon, D.
  • McCullough, E.
  • Diekmann, F.
  • Porciello, J.
  • Jain, M.
  • Randall, N.
  • Mehrabi, Z.