In the West Africa region GWI is led by IIED. Our work here focuses on water for agriculture in Mali, Senegal, Guinea, Burkina Faso and Niger with regional activities within the ECOWAS area and major river basins. GWI in West Africa empowers smallholders in large scale irrigation schemes, usually associated with large dams that are built as a strategic response to improve local and national food security. The program addresses scheme economics and investment choices, smallholder productivity and innovation, and improved governance leading to a more equitable distribution of development benefits from water.
We aim to explore how smallholder farmers in existing large scale schemes can best be supported to sustainably improve agricultural practice and productivity when innovation is shared and adopted. We also seek to improve the governance systems around current and future dams so that all local water users share water and land equitably. We aim to stimulate dialogue and opportunities for exploiting opportunities for investment in diverse activities as well as for avoiding conflicts and fostering secure and sustainable livelihoods for pastoralists, farmers and fishermen.
Our overall vision puts smallholder farmers at the center of policies for efficient water management and secure and sustainable livelihoods. This is because we believe that individual smallholder farmers with secure land tenure are the key to long term household and ultimately national, food security through conflict-free conservation, management and use of water resources. By working with the most efficient and appropriate irrigation technologies and governance tools, empowered smallholders can contribute to improved food security for all.
The GWI program in West Africa seeks to improve food security in the region by achieving four strategic outcomes:
- Increased awareness and debate of the livelihood impacts and economic viability of large government led investment approaches to agriculture technology solutions directed at food security in a context of climate change.
- Increased understanding of and support to farmer-led innovation, knowledge and technologies for sustainable agricultural intensification in dam irrigated sites.
- Better governance and policies for and around dam-fed irrigation systems that improve equitable use of water and reduce conflicts.
- Capacity and support for change is built through learning and effective communication.