Yes! East and Southern Africa can through sustainable land and water management

The East and Southern Africa Division of IFAD started its Regional Implementation Workshop on 15 November 2010 in Mozambique capital Maputo. The theme selected for this year get together is “Sustainable Management of land and Water to Improve Agriculture productivity”. Over 150 participants from 15 countries: Angola, Burundi, Comoros, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia and IFAD headquarters and field office staff are participating in this important annual meeting from 15 to 18 November 2010.

Mr. Aiúba Cuereneia, Minister of Planning and Development of the Republic of Mozambique, presided the opening ceremony. In his opening remark, he welcomed the participants in Mozambique and recognised the role of IFAD in supporting the development in Mozambique since 1983 by investing US$250 million in loans and grants in the country.

The Minister of Planning and Development highlighted the importance of the theme of the workshop and mentioned the trends in the region of pressure on land and natural resources as a result of the rapid urbanization, increasing population and climate change. “Water is becoming a scarce resource, and Mozambique is particularly affected by being fed by river basins that cross the region, where water is used before reaching the country” he said

To conclude, Minister Cuereneia reiterated that his country will continue to prioritize agriculture, fisheries and market linkages, food security, poverty reduction through economic growth in rural areas.

Ides de Willebois, Director of East and Southern Africa of IFAD in his address acknowledged the role of the Government of Mozambique in organizing the workshop. He highlighted the importance of experiences sharing, the impact of IFAD supported projects in the field, efficiency and effectiveness. By supervising directly its supported projects, IFAD is in position to learn lessons which will help in designing new projects.

On the theme of the workshop, Land and Water Management to Improve Productivity in Agriculture, Ides said that in the East and Southern Africa region, only 6% of 20% potential irrigable land are irrigated and most in Madagascar. He also highlighted that particular attention should be paid to the soil and water improvement as 80% of agriculture in the region is rainfed agriculture. He also emphasized on the partnership and invited the participants to open and frank discussions during the workshop and concluded by saying: “if you want to go fast do it yourself, but if you want to go far do it with other”.

The opening ceremony was followed by two plenary sessions. The first discussed three topics:

• The Impact of Climate Change on the Future of Irrigation Development;
• Irrigation Technologies for Water Use Efficiency: investment costs, operational costs and the crop value; and
• Public-Private Partnerships for the Development of Small Scale Irrigation Schemes.

The Participants acknowledged that climate change is already happening globally and is an all new field of knowledge development to find the appropriate solutions in prevention, mitigation and adaptation at local level while taking into account the regional context. Irrigation technologies for water use efficiency need to take into consideration the knowledge of the farmers and be integrated into the whole chain of irrigated agriculture. Public Private Partnerships offer an opportunity for the promotion of small scale irrigation schemes for smallholders, provided there is a strong commitment by governments, the PPP can become a viable farming enterprise and farmers are more market-oriented.
The second Plenary Session was dedicated to the presentation of experiences in water and natural resources management projects, with three papers from Swaziland, one from Lesotho and one from Kenya, and a presentation of IFAD’s experience in securing land and natural resources rights. The presentations addressed issues of design and implementation of irrigation schemes as part of a development plan, partnerships, land tenure systems and rights, as well as water and natural resources management as an entry point to poverty reduction.

The first day working day was concluded by a social get together for the participants with a welcome cocktail offered by the organizers.