Accepted paper:

Opportunities and challenges of 'farmer-led' irrigation development in sub-Saharan Africa.


Philip Woodhouse (University of Manchester)

Paper short abstract:

The paper examines the phenomenon of 'farmer-led' irrigation in sub-Saharan Africa. It uses a survey of 2700 farmers in Tanzania and Mozambique to compare irrigating and non-irrigating households and to identify opportunities and challenges arising from this widespread development.

Paper long abstract:

A renewal of interest in African agricultural productivity since the millennium has been accentuated by the 2007-8 increase in prices in international food commodity markets, and subsequent moves by corporate and sovereign financial agencies to invest in African agricultural land African governments' ambitious new policies for irrigation investment. This has re-opened debates about how best to develop irrigation in Africa, prompting a re- evaluation of both the 'potential' for irrigation development and the reasons why past investment was often perceived as unproductive. At the same time, a growing number of empirical studies have documented an expansion of agricultural water management in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, often by small-scale producers using a variety of technologies, and often in circumstances where legal and regulatory frameworks have not been developed in detail to address such patterns of water use. This paper reports findings of a survey of irrigating and non-irrigating households in areas where such 'farmer-led' irrigation development is taking place. It argues that, while irrigation appears to be benefitting those who can use it, the widespread and dynamic process presents challenges to prevailing irrigation policy.

panel B02
Unequal legacies? The politics of the Green Revolution and South-South technology transfers in Africa [Rising Powers SG] (Paper)