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Water resources development in Africa: a review and synthesis of issues, potentials, and strategies for the future


  • Rosegrant, Mark W.
  • Perez, Nicostrato D.


This paper analyzes how water resources development and water policy reform can be deployed to address the twin problems of food insecurity and water scarcity in Africa and, in particular, Sub-Saharan Africa. The paper reviews the current status of water supply and demand, and the existing and potential irrigated land base in Africa; reviews the performance of existing irrigation systems and assesses the magnitude of the potential contribution and cost-effectiveness of new irrigation development to future food production in Africa; and explores the potential for water conservation through demand management. Meeting the challenges of food security and water scarcity in Africa will require both selective development and exploitation of new water supplies and comprehensive policy reform that encourages efficient use of existing supplies. The most significant reforms will involve changing the institutional and legal environment in which water is supplied to one that empowers water users to make their own decisions regarding the resource. Irrigation development will not be the main source of food production growth in Africa, but increased investment in irrigation could have an important role in reducing projected cereal import demands. Rehabilitation and improvement of existing irrigation systems can be an attractive option, but projects must be selected carefully.

Suggested Citation

  • Rosegrant, Mark W. & Perez, Nicostrato D., 1997. "Water resources development in Africa: a review and synthesis of issues, potentials, and strategies for the future," EPTD discussion papers 28, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  • Handle: RePEc:fpr:eptddp:28

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    3. Reardon, Thomas & Crawford, Eric W. & Bernsten, Richard H. & Eicher, Carl K. & Jayne, Thomas S. & Oehmke, James F. & Savadogo, Kimseyinga, 1993. "Challenges for Creating and Sustaining A Green Revolution in Africa," Staff Papers 11735, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.
    4. Barghouti,S. & Le Moigne, G., 1990. "Irrigation In Sub-Saharan Africa; The Development Of Public And Private Systems," Papers 123, World Bank - Technical Papers.
    5. Aluwihare, Parakrama B. & Kikuchi, Masao, 1991. "Irrigation investment trends in Sri Lanka: new construction and beyond," IWMI Books, International Water Management Institute, number 113725.
    6. Randall, Alan, 1981. "Property Entitlements And Pricing Policies For A Maturing Water Economy," Australian Journal of Agricultural Economics, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society, vol. 25(03), December.
    7. Rosegrant, Mark W. & Binswanger, Hans P., 1994. "Markets in tradable water rights: Potential for efficiency gains in developing country water resource allocation," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 22(11), pages 1613-1625, November.
    8. Rosegrant, Mark W. & Schleyer, Renato Gazmuri & Yadav, Satya N., 1995. "Water policy for efficient agricultural diversification: market-based approaches," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 203-223, June.
    9. Adams, W. M., 1990. "How beautiful is small? Scale, control and success in Kenyan irrigation," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 18(10), pages 1309-1323, October.
    10. Brown, E.P. & Nooter, R., 1992. "Successful Small-Scale Irrigation in the Sahel," Papers 171, World Bank - Technical Papers.
    11. Frederick, K.D., 1993. "Balancing Water Demands with Supplies; The Role of Management in a world of Increasing Scarcity," Papers 189, World Bank - Technical Papers.
    12. Ahmed, Raisuddin & Hossain, Mahabub, 1990. "Developmental impact of rural infrastructure in Bangladesh:," Research reports 83, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
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    1. repec:taf:cijwxx:v:33:y:2017:i:5:p:824-838 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Rosegrant, Mark W. & Ringler, Claudia, 1999. "Impact on food security and rural development of reallocating water from agriculture:," EPTD discussion papers 47, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    3. Easter, K. William & Zekri, Slim, 2003. "Reform Of Irrigation Management And Investment Policy In African Development," Conference Papers 28067, University of the Free State, Department of Agricultural Economics.
    4. Njagi, Njeru Timothy, 2012. "An Investigation into the Possibility of a Rice Green Revolution in Sub Saharan Africa: Lessons from the MWEA Irrigation Scheme in Kenya," Dissertations-Doctoral 207754, AgEcon Search.
    5. Hanatani, Atsushi & Sato, Mine, 2011. "Assessing Effectiveness and Sustainability of Communitymanaged Informal Irrigation in Africa: A Comparative Institutional Analysis of “Temporary" Irrigation in Malawi," Working Papers 34, JICA Research Institute.
    6. Rosegrant, Mark W. & Ringler, Claudia & Paisner, Michael S., 2000. "Agricultural Research, Technology and World Food Markets," 2000 Conference, August 13-18, 2000, Berlin, Germany 197201, International Association of Agricultural Economists.


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