Sustainable Development in Third World Countries: Applied and Theoretical Perspectives

By Valentine Udoh James | Go to book overview

4
Maximizing Irrigation's
Contribution to Sustainable
Development in Africa:
Lessons from the Tono Irrigation
Scheme in Ghana

Michael A. Burayidi

About three-quarters of the African continent is either arid or semiarid, with one-third of the continent's population living on such lands ( Nicholson 1985). In the Sahel region, 80 percent of the land area is arid and is characterized by climatic variability and recurrent drought conditions. The Sahel region stretches from east to west across the continent and spans 16 countries including The Gambia, Senegal, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria, Niger, Burkina Faso, Somalia, Kenya, and the Sudan. An estimated 5 million hectares of forest land has been lost to desertification in the past 50 years ( Africa Tomorrow and Desert Research Institute 1985).

According to Africa Tomorrow and the Desert Research Institute: "Of all the basic needs and pressing problems faced by the people of Sahelian Africa, none is more crucial than the need for improved water supplies. As in all arid and semi-arid environments, the ability to grow crops, to produce livestock, the means to combat desertification, and even the ability to support minimum human life itself, depend on the availability of adequate water" ( 1985: 367).

These climatic conditions have placed irrigation farming at the center of agricultural development policy in Africa. Despite the importance of irrigation on the continent, much of the work that has been done on the subject has failed to address the multiactivity impacts of irrigation on the continent and especially its impact on the welfare of the peasants who often are displaced in the process of constructing the irrigation projects ( Quiroga 1990; Aliou Ba & Crousse 1985; Wallach 1988; Hassan, Fletcher, & Ahmed 1989; Olivier 1990; Unruh 1990).

Proven welfare benefits to farmers is a sine qua non for success of future irrigation projects in Africa. The concern of the literature with technical, output, and macrolevel impacts rather than welfare impacts

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