IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Improving water productivity in mixed crop-livestock farming systems of sub-Saharan Africa


  • Descheemaeker, Katrien
  • Amede, Tilahun
  • Haileslassie, Amare


In sub-Saharan Africa problems associated with water scarcity are aggravated by increasing demands for food and water, climate change and environmental degradation. Livestock keeping, an important livelihood strategy for smallholder farmers in Africa, is a major consumer of water, and its water consumption is increasing with increasing demands for livestock products. At the same time, current low returns from livestock keeping limit its contribution to livelihoods, threaten environmental health and aggravate local conflicts. The objectives of this review are to: (1) synthesize available knowledge in the various components of the livestock and water sectors in sub-Saharan Africa, (2) analyze livestock-water interactions and (3) identify promising strategies and technological interventions for improved livestock water productivity (LWP) using a framework for mixed crop-livestock systems. The interventions are grouped in three categories related to feed, water, and animal management. Feed related strategies for improving LWP include choosing feed types carefully, improving feed quality, increasing feed water productivity, and implementing grazing management practices. Water management for higher LWP comprises water conservation, watering point management, and integration of livestock production in irrigation schemes. Animal management strategies include improving animal health and careful animal husbandry. Evidence indicates that successful uptake of interventions can be achieved if institutions, policies, and gender are considered. Critical research and development gaps are identified in terms of methodologies for quantifying water productivity at different scales and improving integration between agricultural sectors.

Suggested Citation

  • Descheemaeker, Katrien & Amede, Tilahun & Haileslassie, Amare, 2010. "Improving water productivity in mixed crop-livestock farming systems of sub-Saharan Africa," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 97(5), pages 579-586, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:agiwat:v:97:y:2010:i:5:p:579-586

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Wilson, R. Trevor, 2007. "Perceptions, practices, principles and policies in provision of livestock water in Africa," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 90(1-2), pages 1-12, May.
    2. Mapedza, Everisto & Amede, Tilahun & Geheb, Kim & Peden, D. & Boelee, Eline & Demissie, T. S. & Van Hoeve, E. & Van Koppen, Barbara, 2008. "Why gender matters: reflections from the Livestock-Water Productivity Research Project," Conference Papers h041725, International Water Management Institute.
    3. Hanjra, Munir A. & Ferede, Tadele & Gutta, Debel Gemechu, 2009. "Reducing poverty in sub-Saharan Africa through investments in water and other priorities," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 96(7), pages 1062-1070, July.
    4. Rijsberman, Frank R., 2006. "Water scarcity: Fact or fiction?," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 80(1-3), pages 5-22, February.
    5. Negassa, Asfaw & Jabbar, Mohammad A., 2008. "Livestock ownership, commercial off-take rates and their determinants in Ethiopia," Research Reports 99126, International Livestock Research Institute.
    6. Molden, David & Frenken, K. & Barker, R. & de Fraiture, Charlotte & Mati, Bancy & Svendsen, M. & Sadoff, Claudia W. & Finlayson, Max & Atapattu, Sithara & Giordano, Mark & Inocencio, Arlene & Lannerst, 2007. "Trends in water and agricultural development," IWMI Books, Reports H040195, International Water Management Institute.
    7. Barbara van Koppen & Patrick Moriarty & Eline Boelee, 2006. "Multiple-Use Water Services to Advance the Millennium Development Goals," IWMI Research Reports H038377, International Water Management Institute.
    8. Thornton, P. K. & Herrero, M., 2001. "Integrated crop-livestock simulation models for scenario analysis and impact assessment," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 70(2-3), pages 581-602.
    9. Mati, Bancy & Muchiri, J. M. & Njenga, K. & Penning de Vries, Frits & Merrey, Douglas, 2005. "Assessing water availability under pastoral livestock systems in drought-prone Isiolo District, Kenya," IWMI Working Papers H038781, International Water Management Institute.
    10. Gebremedhin, Berhanu & Pender, John & Tesfay, Girmay, 2004. "Collective action for grazing land management in crop-livestock mixed systems in the highlands of northern Ethiopia," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 82(3), pages 273-290, December.
    11. Mekoya, A. & Oosting, S.J. & Fernandez-Rivera, S. & Van der Zijpp, A.J., 2008. "Multipurpose fodder trees in the Ethiopian highlands: Farmers' preference and relationship of indigenous knowledge of feed value with laboratory indicators," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 96(1-3), pages 184-194, March.
    12. Haileslassie, Amare & Peden, Don & Gebreselassie, Solomon & Amede, Tilahun & Descheemaeker, Katrien, 2009. "Livestock water productivity in mixed crop-livestock farming systems of the Blue Nile basin: Assessing variability and prospects for improvement," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 102(1-3), pages 33-40, October.
    13. Peden, D. & Tadesse, G. & Misra, A.K . & Ahmed, F. A. & Astatke, A. & Ayalneh, W. & Herrero, M. & Kiwuwa, G. & Kumsa, T. & Mati, B. & Mpairwe, D. & Wassenaar, T. & Yimegnuhal, A., 2007. "Water and livestock for human development," IWMI Books, Reports H040205, International Water Management Institute.
    14. Devendra, C. & Thomas, D., 2002. "Crop-animal interactions in mixed farming systems in Asia," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 71(1-2), pages 27-40.
    15. Rosegrant, Mark W. & Cai, Ximing & Cline, Sarah A. & Nakagawa, Naoko, 2002. "The role of rainfed agriculture in the future of global food production:," EPTD discussion papers 90, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Krauß, Michael & Kraatz, Simone & Drastig, Katrin & Prochnow, Annette, 2015. "The influence of dairy management strategies on water productivity of milk production," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 147(C), pages 175-186.
    2. Njuki, Jemimah & Waithanji, Elizabeth & Sakwa, Beatrice & Kariuki, Juliet & Mukewa, Elizabeth & Ngige, John, 2014. "Can market-based approaches to technology development and dissemination benefit women smallholder farmers? A qualitative assessment of gender dynamics in the ownership, purchase, and use of irrigation," IFPRI discussion papers 1357, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:agiwat:v:97:y:2010:i:5:p:579-586. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.