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What is the irrigation potential for Africa?

Author

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  • You, Liangzhi
  • Ringler, Claudia
  • Nelson, Gerald
  • Wood-Sichra, Ulrike
  • Robertson, Richard
  • Wood, Stanley
  • Guo, Zhe
  • Zhu, Tingju
  • Sun, Yan

Abstract

Although irrigation in Africa has the potential to boost agricultural productivities by at least 50 percent, food production on the continent is almost entirely rainfed. The area equipped for irrigation, currently slightly more than 13 million hectares, makes up just 6 percent of the total cultivated area. Eighty-five percent of Africa’s poor live in rural areas and mostly depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. As a result, agricultural development is key to ending poverty on the continent. Many development organizations have recently proposed to significantly increase investments in irrigation in the region. However, the potential for irrigation investments in Africa is highly dependent upon geographic, hydrologic, agronomic, and economic factors that need to be taken into account when assessing the long-term viability and sustainability of planned projects. This paper analyzes large, dam-based and small-scale irrigation investment needs in Africa based on agronomic, hydrologic, and economic factors. This type of analysis can guide country- and local-level assessment of irrigation potential, which will be important to agricultural and economic development in Africa.

Suggested Citation

  • You, Liangzhi & Ringler, Claudia & Nelson, Gerald & Wood-Sichra, Ulrike & Robertson, Richard & Wood, Stanley & Guo, Zhe & Zhu, Tingju & Sun, Yan, 2010. "What is the irrigation potential for Africa?," IFPRI discussion papers 993, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  • Handle: RePEc:fpr:ifprid:993
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Inocencio, Arlene & Kikuchi, Masao & Tonosaki, Manabu & Maruyama, Atsushi & Merrey, Douglas & Sally, Hilmy & de Jong, Ijsbrand, 2007. "Costs and performance of irrigation projects: A comparison of Sub-Saharan Africa and other developing regions," IWMI Research Reports H036214, International Water Management Institute.
    2. You, Liangzhi & Wood, Stanley, 2006. "An entropy approach to spatial disaggregation of agricultural production," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 90(1-3), pages 329-347, October.
    3. Svendsen, Mark & Ewing, Mandy & Msangi, Siwa, 2009. "Measuring irrigation performance in Africa:," IFPRI discussion papers 894, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    4. You, Liangzhi & Wood, Stanley & Wood-Sichra, Ulrike, 2007. "Generating plausible crop distribution and performance maps for Sub-Saharan Africa using a spatially disaggregated data fusion and optimization approach:," IFPRI discussion papers 725, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    5. Anton Eberhard & Vivien Foster & Cecilia Briceño-Garmendia & Fatimata Ouedraogo & Daniel Camos & Maria Shkaratan, 2008. "Underpowered : The State of the Power Sector in Sub-Saharan Africa," World Bank Other Operational Studies 7833, The World Bank.
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    Cited by:

    1. Nunez, Paula & Colmenero, Alberto, 2011. "Ague, agricultura y desarrollo: avances y retos para la reduccion de la pobreza," Revista Espanola de Estudios Agrosociales y Pesqueros, Ministerio de Medio Ambiente, Rural y Marino (formerly Ministry of Agriculture), issue 230, pages 1-28.
    2. Karen G. Villholth, 2013. "Groundwater irrigation for smallholders in Sub-Saharan Africa - a synthesis of current knowledge to guide sustainable outcomes," Water International, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 38(4), pages 369-391, July.
    3. Dillon, Andrew, 2011. "The Effect of Irrigation on Poverty Reduction, Asset Accumulation, and Informal Insurance: Evidence from Northern Mali," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 39(12), pages 2165-2175.
    4. UNDP Africa, 2012. "Africa Human Development Report 2012 Towards a Food Secure Future," UNDP Africa Reports 267636, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

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    Keywords

    internal rate of return; Investment; irrigation potential; large-scale irrigation; small-scale irrigation;
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