Estimating in-season actual evapotranspiration over a large-scale irrigation scheme in resource-limited conditions

Alidou Sawadogo, Kemal Sulhi Gundogdu*, Farid Traoré, Louis Kouadio, Tim Hessels

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Reliable and readily available data on actual evapotranspiration (ETa) over large-scale areas throughout the crop growing season are critical for improved agricultural irrigation and water resource management. On-site data collection is costly, labour-intensive, and very challenging in resource-limited conditions. Thus, open-source satellite-based approaches might be adopted as cost-effective alternatives. In this study, the performance of a cost-effective and open source satellite-based approach for estimating ETa over a large-scale (1200 ha) irrigation system, the Kou Valley Irrigation Scheme (KVIS), in Burkina Faso was assessed. ETa values over the critical irrigation period during the 2014 dry season (January-April) were estimated using the Python module for Surface Energy Balance Algorithm for Land model (PySEBAL). Then, they were compared against the Water Productivity Open-access (FAO-WaPOR), and United States Geological Survey-Famine Early Warning Systems Network Operational Simplified Surface Energy Balance (USGS-FEWS NET's SSEBop) ETa over the same period at different temporal scales. Overall, ETa values were satisfactorily estimated throughout the crop growth season across the Kou Valley irrigation scheme using PySEBAL. They spatially varied depending on the soil type and crop, with daily values ranging from 4.09 mm day1 to 7.7 mm day1, for a seasonal average of 619 mm. The finer spatial resolution (30 m) of PySEBAL outputs allowed better estimations compared to the FAO-WaPOR and SSEBop-based approaches. Our findings help ascertain the use of the PySEBAL model in semi-arid environment in Burkina Faso, and could serve as a basis for developing strategies for improved irrigation water management in countries experiencing similar conditions such as Burkina Faso.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1473-1480
Number of pages8
JournalComptes Rendus de L'Academie Bulgare des Sciences
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Landsat
  • Remote sensing
  • Semi-arid environment
  • Sub-Sahara
  • Water management


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