Sustainable Irrigation Growth in Sub-Saharan Africa

There is a resurgence of interest in irrigation in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) partly due to persistent food insecurity problems and partly because of the scope for growth in agricultural production through irrigation development. Much of the ongoing investment is proceeding without adequate consideration of what needs to be done differently to ensure that irrigation is implemented and managed to enhance livelihoods and ecosystem services. Similarly, although there is a growing realization that the full spectrum of irrigation opportunities need to be considered, the emphasis remains on large scale publicly funded irrigation systems.

Through the SIGISSA initiative IWMI seeks to address this by:

  1. Putting water to productive use by providing advice on the most appropriate agricultural water management (AWM) technologies for both small-scale and large-scale irrigation schemes.
  2. Securing benefits of surface- and ground-water for enhanced irrigation by conducting studies to ensure sustainable groundwater use while minimizing over-exploitation. The groundwater-energy nexus needs also to be examined.
  3. Ensuring sustainable irrigation outcomes by improving irrigation systems performance. This will be done by expanding existing irrigation performance benchmarking software beyond biophysical indicators to include ecosystem services, gender, and equity indicators, and indicators to assess organizational performance of irrigation management institutions.
  4. Exploring new innovations in irrigation development by analysing new innovations (e.g. public-private partnership in irrigation, growth corridors, FDI in agricultural land) with a view to offer policy recommendations on how to make them work better in the African context.
  5. Building the next generation of irrigators and irrigation managers through knowledge sharing and capacity building across all aspects of irrigation implementation and management.