Water management experts from West and Central Africa on Sunday completed a two-day meeting in The Gambia aimed at identifying what are the major constraints, issues and problems facing agricultural water management programs; what are the best ways to address these problems; and what kinds of new opportunities can be proposed for future programs.
The experts - alongside regional and country programme managers of International fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) funded projects, government officials and policy makers in West and Central Africa - also shared the major results from recent projects implemented by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), which has implemented several projects in the region on water management.
The event on the theme, ‘Improving outcomes of agricultural water management investments: Research results, lessons learned and innovative new opportunities’, was a pre-forum learning event of the 7th Regional Forum for IFAD-funded Projects taking place in The Gambia from 12th to 15th November 2012.
Speaking to journalists in Banjul on Monday, Douglas J Merrey of IWMI, said water management remains one of the most significant constrains to agricultural development in Africa.
He noted that investing in small-scale interventions for improved water control can produce a dramatic impact on the productivity of agriculture.
According to him, over the years, there was not much political commitment to water management by African governments “but things are changing now as governments are more and more beginning to appreciate the impact of water management on agricultural growth and development”.
In Ghana, for example, the government is highly commitment to water management by pumping in a lot of money on water management and these monies are provided by the government itself not the donor community, Douglas said.
Many analysts believe that future increases in food supplies and economic prosperity for the rural poor will come mainly from improved agricultural water management combined with other interventions contributing to production and productivity of agriculture.
Prof Saa Dittoh, IWMI consultant, said governments, NGOs, the donor community and other stakeholders should be participatory in what they doing, particularly when it comes to designing of projects on water management. He said this will help in the longevity and sustainability of projects as the communities will take ownership of such projects, even if the implementation period phased out.
During the two-day meeting, participants discussed the feasibility of new innovative agricultural water management investment opportunities and identifying steps and resources needed, among others.
IWMI’s vision is to be a world-class knowledge center on water, food and environment and to establish an organizational culture of impact, performance and service.