Constraints and prospects of hand dug wells related to household irrigation were assessed in Hayelom watershed (~1045 ha), by evaluating groundwater suitability for irrigation, soil quality and impact of intervention. 181 hand dug wells have come into existence in the watershed due to intervention and benefiting about 166 families. Eight groundwater and twenty soil samples were tested to understand the suitability of groundwater and soil in the area. Impact of the intervention on livelihood of the household was assessed on the basis of the data obtained through questionnaire, and discussions held with focal groups and individuals. Water and soil samples were analyzed for major cations and anions, boron, pH and electrical conductivity and the data is computed both sodium absorption ratio and exchangeable sodium percentage. The results suggest that groundwater is suitable for irrigation purpose and the soils are free from soil salinity and sodicity hazards. Introduction of new tree plants, improvement in the households feeding habits, income, and introduction and adoption of water lifting technologies are some of the changes observed in terms of prospects. On the other hand, spacing of hand dug wells, sliding of its walls, similar and simultaneous production of vegetable crops, wastage of land, maintenance of water lifting technology and water scarcity are some of the major constraints identified in the watershed. Intervention though undoubtedly has helped to improve the standard of life in the watershed, has introduced some of these constraints. Continuation of the irrigation activities in this virgin area is expected to bring changes in the quality of water and soil as well. It may emerge as a serious constraint in future if proper attention is not paid at this juncture.
Key words: Constraints, Groundwater, Hand dug well, Intervention, Irrigation, Soil quality.