Webinar: Irrigation development and agricultural water management in Africa: transitioning implementation for sustainable adaptation

Webinar: Irrigation development and agricultural water management in Africa: transitioning implementation for sustainable adaptation


October 15, 2020    
11:00 am - 1:30 pm


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Thursday 15 October 2020   |   11:00-13:30 GMT

Organized by the African Union (AU) Commission in collaboration with the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and The World Bank, this webinar aims to promote AU member states’ internalization of the Framework for Irrigation Development and Agricultural Water Management (IDAWM). Published in June 2020, the framework consolidates the most relevant approaches to and priority actions for agricultural water management (AWM) in Africa and serves as a blueprint to align and harmonize national and regional water management policies.

Learning from and building on previous AWM implementation efforts, the framework proposes investment in four parallel pathways.

    • Pathway 1: Improved water control and watershed management under rain-fed farming
    • Pathway 2: Farmer-led irrigation development
    • Pathway 3: Irrigation scheme development and modernization
    • Pathway 4: Unconventional water use for irrigation (including wastewater treatment, recycling and reuse)

The webinar will provide a platform to present the four pathways in relation to design and implementation challenges and the external and internal factors that influence use and sustainability.

The objectives of the webinar are, among others, to:

  • Share experiences and update knowledge on IDAWM implementation challenges;
  • Discuss key systemic and policy-related changes needed to facilitate a transition to sustainable irrigation development and AWM practices;
  • Increase awareness of and galvanize investment interest in agricultural intensification measures as proposed in the framework and promote their sustainable adaptation to scale.

Expected outcomes

The webinar is expected to:

  1. Increase awareness among planners, policy makers, donors and implementers on the use of irrigation and AWM practices for agricultural intensification;
  2. Provide an update on implementation challenges for each of the pathways;
  3. Increase the knowledge of actors and implementers on success factors needed for sustainable use of AWM schemes.

Webinar format and target audience 

The target participants are regional- and national-level irrigation and AWM planners and policy makers, donors, project implementers, partners, experts, farmers’ organization representatives and other stakeholders.

The 2.5-hour live-streamed webinar will discuss specific implementation and use-related challenges for the four pathways. Country-specific success factors that can be leveraged to mitigate these challenges will also be discussed for each of the pathways.

Featured speakers

Opening remarksPanelistsSpeaker profiles

Opening remarks and presentation of the IDAWM framework

Abebe Haile-Gabriel
Assistant Director General and FAO Regional Representative for Africa
Mark Smith
Director General, International Water Management Institute
Mark Lundell
Regional Director, Sustainable Development Eastern and Southern Africa, The World Bank
Josefa Sacko
Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, African Union Commission
Mure Agbonlahor
Senior Agricultural Production and Marketing Officer, African Union Commission

Pathway 1

Nuhu Hatibu
Regional Head, East Africa, AGRA
Boubacar Barry
Hydraulician and Research Associate, IPAR

Pathway 2

Gabriella Izzi
Senior Irrigation and Drainage Specialist, The World Bank
Regassa Namara
Senior Water Economist, The World Bank
Olufunke Cofie
West Africa Regional Representative, International Water Management Institute
Petra Schmitter
Research Group Leader – Sustainable and Resilient Food Production Systems, International Water Management Institute

Pathway 3

Valere Nzeyimana
Senior Water Development and Management Officer, FAO Regional Office for Africa
Bancy Mati
Director, Water Research and Resource Center
Jonathan Denison
Independent Irrigation and Agricultural Water Consultant and CEO of Water Development
Abraham Mehari Haile
Principal Researcher, MetaMeta

Pathway 4

Josiane Nikiema
Research Group Leader – Water Pollution and Circular Economy, International Water Management Institute
Hans Komakech
Senior Lecturer and Centre Director WISE – Futures


More information


The African Unions’ (AU) framework on Irrigation Development and Agricultural Water Management (IDAWM) sets forth implementation pathways to guide Member States (MS) investments in agricultural water development, use and management. The framework was endorsed by the by the Specialized Technical  Committee (STC) on Agriculture, Rural Development, Water and Environment (ARDWE) in 2019 and Noted by the AU’ Executive Council (EX.CL/1187(XXXVI)) in February 2020. The framework, succinctly, captured the various Decisions and Declarations on of AU Assembly on the need for increased investments in agricultural water management to accelerate African agricultural growth for improved livelihoods and shared prosperity.

Declining agricultural productivity, high food Import bill and increased episodes of hunger against the backdrop of high population growth and climatic variability have accentuated the need for Agriculture Water Management (AWM) to increase crop production and food security, mitigate climate-related shocks and stimulate economic growth through income generation in the African continent. Emerging evidences reveal a high demand and opportunities for the expansion and intensification of irrigation and other AWM practices across the continent. The IDAWM framework, as with all continental blueprints, acknowledges the sovereignty and sovereign equality of MS as duly enshrined in the Constitutive Act of the African Union. The implication of this is that MS have the right to decide on and adopt their own policies and sector development agenda. The AU’ IDAWM framework advocates for MS’ investments in the four pathways towards agricultural intensification to achieve the 2014 Malabo goals and contribute to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) achievement.

The four pathways (not mutually exclusive) proposed in IDAWM to accelerate sustainable agricultural intensification in the continent are:

    • Pathway1: Improved water control and watershed management under rain-fed farming
    • Pathway2: Farmer Led Irrigation Development (FLID) process
    • Pathway3: Irrigation Scheme development and modernization
    • Pathway4: Unconventional water use for irrigation (incl. waste water treatment, recycle and reuse)

A first step in the operationalizing the framework is the successful domestication and internalization of the framework. Internalization is expected to prioritize investments in irrigation and AWM projects as reflected in their incorporation into the official budget documents. Regional and national agricultural investment plans (RAIPs/NAIPs) are budgetary guidepost for mobilizing and directing investments (public and private) in agriculture at the regional and national levels respectively.

Increased water use efficiency for irrigation schemes and AWM good practices are important considerations in transitioning implementation for sustainable adaptation in the Continent. However, an understanding of the specific socio-economic, market, financial, institutional, technical and political environment as well as the design factors and farmers’ participation are critical sustainability factors. The similarities of these factors and the farmers’ characteristics in African small holders’ production systems offer a huge opportunity for experience sharing and the scalability of best practices.