The distributional impact of large dams: Evidence from cropland productivity in Africa
We examine the distributional impact of large dams on cropland productivity in Africa. As our unit of analysis we use a hydrology based spatial breakdown of the continent that allows one to exactly define regions in terms of their upstream/downstream relationship at a highly disaggregated level. We then use satellite data to derive measures of cropland productivity within these areas. Our econometric analysis shows that while regions downstream benefit from large dams, no beneficial effects accrue to cropland within the vicinity. Moreover, we find that the productivity enhancing impact of upstream dams is dependent on the local climate. Overall our results suggest that upstream dams have quantitatively on average provided up to 12% of the minimum daily per capita amount of kilocalorie needs in downstream communities and increased agricultural production by 1%.
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