Save the date: AU SAFGRAD is organizing a validation workshop of the AU Framework on Irrigation Development and Agricultural Water Management in Africa. The meeting is taking place in Ouagadougou (BURKINA FASO), 10-11 July 2019


Validation workshop for the Africa Union framework on:

Irrigation Development and Agricultural Water Management in Africa

Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, 10-11 July 2019




Realigning Irrigation Development and Agricultural Water Management to fast track African Agricultural Transformation for shared prosperity and improved livelihoods.



The critical role of Agriculture in a secured, peaceful and prosperous Africa have been reiterated in Africa Union Agenda 2063 in buttressing the need to accelerate African agricultural growth and transformation. The 2014 Malabo Declaration of the African Heads of States and Governments, also, reemphasis the critical role of an Accelerated African Agricultural growth in furnishing shared prosperity and improved livelihoods. The declaration defines the immediate future of African economies around agriculture sector as the flagship of social and economic transformation. The reason for this is not far-fetched; the sector employs over 60% of the active labour force (key for broad based and inclusive economic growth and wealth creation), produces over 86% of total food consumed, and the Continent is home to about 60% of the world’s Arable land. Also, the sector contributes about 16% of the GDP and accounts for about a third of total export earnings of the continent.


1.Small holders’ (<2ha) farmers are the dominant player in African agriculture; representing about 85% of producers.

2.Productivity is low as most of the small holders use little or no purchased inputs and depend on rain fed agriculture. The teething problem of low productivity has been fingered as a major limitation of the sector’s ability to serve as the engine of growth in the continent. Development economists’ estimates that a 1% increase in African agricultural productivity has the potential to reduce poverty level by about 4%.

3.Dependence on rain-fed agriculture and lack of proper agricultural water management skills against the backdrop of high climatic variability is a major cause of declining productivity in the sector. Productivity improvements in food supply would come from up-scaling irrigation and other sustainable agriculture water management as Climate Smart Agricultural (CSA) technologies. IFPRI (2014) asserts that when effectively deployed, irrigation has the potential to boost productivity by 50%.

4.Environmental/climate related challenges including drought and water shortages, among other factors is the major cause of hunger in the Continent. Food aids and increased food import bill (estimated USD35b) andReliable access to water is essential to increase crop production and mitigate drought across Africa, all the more so as climate change brings greater uncertainty, and the demand for food escalates with population gro 

5.Huge potential exists in the continent to boost food production and build livelihoods resilience through irrigation development and agriculture water management (IDAWM) in the continent. This potential is buttressed by the abundant land and water resources; only a fifth of the irrigation potential has been equipped. 

II. Basis for the Workshop

The importance of irrigation and agricultural water management in stimulating intensification and productivity gains in the Africa has been identified and appropriately set forth in agricultural development plans at all levels. Improving agricultural water management to support smallholders’ livelihoods and to drive economic development is a priority for the global and continental agenda. At the Continental level, many Declarations have attempted to stimulate African Member States’ interest in agricultural intensification through irrigation and agricultural water management. Also, regional and national ggovernments have put in place policy instruments to accelerate up-scaling and adoption of IDAWM. Development Partners have also renewed investments support interest in IDAWM in the last two decades. These interventions seek to address and mitigate challenges associated with increasing productivity against the backdrop of fast-growing population, urbanization, climate-change impact on water resources and increasing cross-sectoral competition for water. A mosaic of actors and different IDAWM schemes (public, private, large and small scale) and technologies inundates the continent’s agricultural landscape; over space and time. While there are success stories of some IDAWM interventions and arrangements that have recorded positive and sustainable impact in building livelihood resilience, same cannot be said of many others. Many of the schemes have failed while many are operating at below of installation capacity. Adverse environmental effects, poor planning, lack of managerial capacities and unsustainable infrastructure and facility support have been highlighted as reasons for failure. Against this backdrop, there is the need to convene a stakeholders’ forum to realign irrigation and agricultural water development in the Continent.

AU-SAFGRAD is one of the specialized, technical offices of the African Union Commission (AUC) under the Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture (DREA). The mandate of the Office is to build livelihood resilience of small holders in the context of key development challenges associated with dryland agriculture. As part of its agricultural livelihoods’ resilience building programme support to Africa Union’ member States, AU-SAFGRAD, with support from FAO is organizing a 2day workshop “Realigning Irrigation and Agricultural Water Development to fast track Agricultural Transformation for shared prosperity and improved livelihoods”. The aim of the workshop is to take stock of the different players/actors activities in the promotion and implementation of sustainable IDAWM schemes in the Continent. The Africa Union’ Irrigation Development and Agricultural Water Management (IDAWM) framework will be presented for validation at the workshop.

III. Objective of the Workshop

The workshop will present a platform to take stock and align stakeholders’ (promoting, financing and implementing) activities in IDAWM in the Continent. Specifically, the workshop will:

  • Receive and validate the Africa Union’ IDAWM framework
  • Inform on actors activities, status, successes and challenges of different IDAWM schemes/projects implemented in different parts of the Continent
  • build up experiences of best practices, and proposing ways and means to promote adoption of sustainable and inclusive IDAWM schemes

IV. Expected Outcome

The following Outcomes are expected from the workshop:

The envisaged outcome of the Workshop will be inputs for the Ministerial endorsement of the IDAWM framework by the AU’ Specialized Technical Committee (STC) on Agriculture, Rural Development, Water and Environment (ARDWE). The framework as a Continental blue print is expected to guide the development and implementation of regional and national strategy for an inclusive agricultural water management. Expectedly, the outcome will include:

  • Validated IDAWM framework
  • Update on involvement, scale, challenges, lessons learnt and success factor in implementing and managing IDAWM schemes in the Continent
  • Actionable recommendations aimed at facilitating stakeholders engagement and alignment for a sustainable IDAWM are agreed on in a participatory way

V. Target Participants

The Forum will bring together about 100 participants. These will include senior regional and national government officials/experts from public ministries involve in irrigation development and agricultural water management schemes, experts from technical agencies and institutions within the Continent. Also, representatives of development partners, IDAWM financing and implementing agencies, private organizations involve in Irrigation value chains development, Water Users’ Associations and other stakeholders are expected at the forum.

VI. Workshop Meeting dates:

The 2day African Union’ framework validation and IDAWM Workshop will be held from 10th–11th July, 2019. For any further information and enquiries please contact: Mure Agbonlahor at