World Water Week: Expanding Access to Irrigation in Africa

August 17, 2008

Odds are 1 in 20 that a farmer in Senegal will have a farm equipped for irrigation, while in Asia, the odds are 1 in 3. Africa lags Asia and the rest of the world in almost every irrigation-related category, according to a recent study conducted by IFPRI for the World Bank. IFPRI researchers Mark Svendsen, Mandy Ewing, and Siwa Msangi developed a set of 16 indicators for 24 Sub-Saharan African countries, which showed that the sample countries withdraw only half as much renewable water for agriculture as the world as a whole, and just one sixth as much as Asian countries. Likewise, the share of cultivated land equipped for irrigation was just one fifth of the world average. At the same time, irrigated land was considerably more productive than rainfed land, showing the potential for irrigation to improve nutrition and livelihoods. Caloric intake per person in the sample countries was just 78% of the global average.

Click here for more information on IFPRI’s work on Water Resource Allocation and its contributions to the CGIAR’s Challenge Program on Water and Food. For more information on World Water Week, visit: