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 scientifically 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, cropland within the vicinity tends to suffer productivity losses during droughts. Overall our results suggest that because of rainfall shortages dams caused a net loss of 0.96 percent in production in Africa over our sample period (1981-2000). However, further dam construction in appropriate areas could potentially lead to large increases in cropland production even if rainfall is not plenty.
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