An international expert on agriculture says in Africa, water is relatively plentiful overall but is unequally distributed. Mohamed ait Kadi is a university professor and the president of the General Council of Agricultural Development In Morocco. He is also an advisor to the Global Water Partnership and was one of the speakers at the Summit on Trade and Development, put on by the World Agricultural Forum. The forum is a non-profit organization that works to support agriculture in Africa. In this fifth of a five-part series – getting enough water for economic growth through agriculture.
Ait Kadi says in sub-Saharan Africa, only five percent of farmable land benefits from successful water management. From Rabat, he told Voice of America reporter Cole Mallard that irrigation systems must be developed in order to reduce poverty, and future agricultural growth will depend on diversifying the water supply.
Ait Kadi says the cost of developing irrigation in Africa is very high – from $10,000 to $20,000 per hectare. But he says Africa is getting closer to the world average in terms of cost.
Ait Kadi adds that there is increased interest on the part of the international community in helping with water development costs. He mentions ongoing collaborative initiatives with the African Development Bank, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the International Water Management Institute and the World Bank: “They have developed a good report on the investment in agricultural water for poverty…in sub-Saharan Africa and they have come up with some recommendations….” These include improving cooperation at all levels of government and across borders. He adds that plans are needed to promote effective management of water, land and forests.
HELPING WITH THE MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS
Ait Kadi says the international community realizes that managing water in Africa is key to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, which were designed to end extreme poverty worldwide by 2015.
He says the World Bank has approved a five million dollar project to develop the Niger Basin water resources and eco-system, which is expected to take 12 years. Ait Kadi says there are good prospects for this goal to be achieved because of resources already committed by such organizations as the Global Water Partnership.