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New strategies of donors in the irrigation sector in Africa




Lévite, Hervé, author
Loumouamou, Mayouma, author
Maraux, Florent, author
Roux, Julienne, author
Godart, Estelle, author
U.S. Committee on Irrigation and Drainage, publisher

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In 2005, FAO released an "Irrigation in Africa in figures" report which emphasized that the level of investment in agricultural water management has been declining for the past two decades. In response to the UN Millennium Development Goals and recurring food crises in Africa, political initiatives are being pursued such as the UK-led Commission for Africa. The report called for a huge effort in the irrigation sector with a plea to double the area of arable land under irrigation by 2015. Today the World Bank appears to lead the process of re-engagement in the sector. But only few donors seem ready to follow the momentum. In fact there are still a lot of doubts on: how to invest in a continent where irrigation is so risky with high costs, unreliable operation and maintenance, weak institutions, and meagre markets. Besides, new considerations call for prudence in irrigation development such as competition for water (growing urbanization, wetlands protections), climate change, and agriculture trade globalisation. The aim of this paper is to try to describe the current donors' approaches and the coherence of their strategies. Indeed the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness obliges donors to adapt to countries' demand and to harmonize their policies. It appears that in the irrigation sector donors do not have yet explicit strategies in Sub Saharan Africa. Several donors are not even certain that irrigation is a good entry point to solve poverty and food security problems, despite recent evidence brought about by the research community.


Presented at the Role of irrigation and drainage in a sustainable future: USCID fourth international conference on irrigation and drainage on October 3-6, 2007 in Sacramento, California.

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