Improving Food Security and Nutrition in the Sahel by Safeguarding Wetlands through Sustainable Agricultural Water Management
Water insecurity in the Sahel is chronic and negatively affecting food security and nutrition. In 2015, more than 20 million were food insecure at the start of the year. In response to this much focus has been put on increasing production and productivity in the dryland areas of the region. Wetlands, which cover 10 percent of the region, are disproportionately important but are frequently overlooked though they are essential for farmers, fisher communities and pastoralists. Sectoral planning and investments coupled with a lack of integrated policy implementation and weak governance from local to national level serve to reinforce what is effectively a tragedy of the commons. Increasing population and migration is putting increasing pressure on traditional production systems leading to over-exploitation, loss of production and conflict. The predicted effects of climate change seem likely to make things worse. Thus, if Sahelian food insecurity and poor nutrition are to be properly addressed, it is vital to identify ways to manage these areas better. This project addresses these challenges by examining the interconnectedness of two issues: 1) the ecological sustainability of wetlands as essential food-producing systems (agro-ecosystems); and 2) the livelihood, income, and inclusion of smallholder food production practices. The project also seeks to examine these issues’ roles in achieving food security and socially inclusive economic development while sustaining underlying ecosystem services. Achieving systemic changes to agriculture on the smallholder level is based on a combination of two intervention approaches: Integrated landscape Approach and the Markets for the Poor Approach. The project works in Lac Wegnia and the Upper Sourou basin in Mali (crossing the border into Burkina Faso) and the Ziway-Shalla Basin in Ethiopia.