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Library Land and water rights in the Sahel

Land and water rights in the Sahel

Land and water rights in the Sahel

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Date of publication
November 2006
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Water for agriculture draws on a range of sources - from naturally available water bodies to water supply infrastructure. In sub-Saharan Africa, only a very small percentage of arable land is irrigated. Most farmers produce food under rainfed conditions. In 1995, for instance, 89 percent of cereal production in sub-Saharan Africa was delivered from rainfed agriculture, compared to 58 percent in the West Asia and Northern Africa region (InterAcademy Council, 2004). The situation in the Sahel is very much in line with this trend. Here, the past few decades have witnessed considerable efforts to improve the water infrastructure in rural areas. As a result, there has been a multiplication of pastoral water points and of irrigation schemes - from large, state-owned schemes like the Office du Niger in Mali (which dates back to the 1930s) to village-level irrigation schemes. Irrigation has enabled the cultivation of a range of crops - from rice to fruit and vegetables. However, rainfed farming (millet, sorghum, etc) and pastoralism are - and are likely to remain - the dominant forms of agricultural production and the pillars of rural livelihoods in much of the Sahel.

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