Trends and Opportunities for Investment in Agricultural Water Management in Sub-Saharan Africa
The key message is that there is an urgent need to reinvest in agricultural water management. The most important lessons learned from this are that successful irrigation projects in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) do not have significantly different unit investment costs from similar projects in other regions and that it is possible to formulate cost-effective and better performing irrigation projects. It is important to look for effective, lower cost alternatives to conventional irrigation and that investing in large projects comprising many small scale schemes was more cost-effective. While larger projects are shown to be more economically viable than smaller ones, investments in water infrastructure including developing more storage need to be increased. One key challenge is to make use the nearly two million ha in SSA which is equipped but not utilized. Governments, experts and other stakeholders should think more in terms of agricultural water management rather than (separately) about irrigated or rainfed agriculture. Water management must be linked to soil fertility management as well. It is necessary to improve management capability and skills/capacity of all role-players, including farmers and water user associations, and that agricultural water management has to be holistic and integrated. Investments must prioritize farmer-led and farmer-need projects because a one size fits all approach will not work. Project design and management must be adapted to local conditions and the type of farming system. Irrigation projects must also take into account water supply and sanitation needs of the beneficiary population. Study results also indicate the need to set up (a) an information system on water resources availability to improve planning and decision-making in agriculture and water resource development and management, and (b) regional markets to promote agricultural growth and development. Also, investments should include both infrastructure/bio-physical components and human resource capacity building and research.