Friday, November 16, 2012

Water management remains significant constrain to agricultural development in Africa - Experts

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Think-tanks from the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) on Monday said water management remains one of the most significant constrains to agricultural development in Africa. 

The experts believe future increases in food supplies and economic prosperity for the rural poor will come mainly from improved agricultural water management combined with other interventions contributing to production and productivity of agriculture.

At a meeting held in Banjul, The Gambia from Nov. 10-11, 2012, water management experts from West and Central Africa (WCA) discussed on the topic “Improving outcomes of agricultural water management investments:  Research results, lessons learned and innovative new opportunities.”

Held on the margins of the 7th Regional Forum for IFAD-funded Projects from 12th to 15th November 2012, the water management meeting was aimed at identifying the major constraints, issues and problems facing agricultural water management programmes; the best ways to address these problems; and what kinds of new opportunities can be proposed for future programmes.  

Investing in small-scale interventions for improved water control can produce a dramatic impact on the productivity of agriculture, Prof Douglas J. Marrey, an IWMI Natural Resources Policy and Institutions Specialist told journalists on Nov. 12.

Prof Marrey said there was not much political commitment to water management by African governments over the years “but things are changing now as governments are more and more beginning to appreciate the impact of water management on agricultural growth and development.”

He made reference to Ghana, a West African nation where the government is “highly committed” to water management by pumping in a lot of money in this area of intervention. “These monies are provided by the Ghana Government itself not the donor community,” he added.

Governments, NGOs, the donor community and other stakeholders should be participatory in what we are doing, particularly when it comes to designing of projects on water management, an IWMI Consultant, Prof Saa Ditteh said, this will help in the longevity and sustainability of projects as the communities will take ownership of such projects, even if the implementation period phased out.

The experts - alongside regional and country programme managers of International fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) funded projects, government officials and policy makers in West and Central Africa - also shared the major results from recent projects implemented by the IWMI.

During the two-day meeting, organised by the IWMI which has implemented several projects on water management in the WCA region, the participants discussed the feasibility of new innovative agricultural water management investment opportunities, and identifying steps and resources needed. 

IWMI’s vision is to be a world-class knowledge center on water, food and environment and to establish an organizational culture of impact, performance and service.

Written by Modou S. Joof

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