Agriculture Water Management for Africa (AgWA) #wwweek

By Charles Dhewa

As Agriculture Water Management (AWM) becomes a hot issue in Africa, AgWA has been set up to promote the AWM agenda for Africa. The International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) is one of the organisations that has provided a grant to strengthen AgWA.

Activities around AgWA were presented to participants during the first day of the Stockholm World Water 2012 in Sweden.  The main business lines for AgWA include:

  • Advocacy and communication;
  • Harmonization of strategies;
  • Resource mobilization;
  • Knowledge generation and sharing; and, 
  • Capacity development.

A partnership road map has been crafted involving governments, donors and the private sector. AgWA is set to work as an ‘expert pool’ to support the planning and implementation of AWM investments within the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programmes (CAADP).  A key thrust is Private Public Partnerships (PPP).  Under an initiative dubbed Irrigate Africa, a critical private sector partner in Africa is Illovo Sugar Group, a company growing sugar in 6 African countries, working together with governments and smallholder farmers.  Although agriculture is considered the engine for economic growth, one of the challenges noted in Africa is fragmentation of models and responsibilities.  Many actors are addressing the same issue without talking to each other. Institutional capacity issues should not be over looked.

Commenting on the AgWA session Rudolph Cleveringa, IFAD’s Water & Rural Infrastructure Senior Technical Advisor, said commitments at continental and national levels should mirror activities and behaviour change at smallholder farmer level where practical action happens. AgWA should also consider the fact that African agriculture is not attracting the brightest minds.  An elderly  population also dominates African agriculture. All these factors should be taken into account.

Another critical issue is the fragmentation of donor efforts.  It is difficult for governments to know the priorities of diverse donors. Donors should come together and revitalize their earlier commitments.  There is need to convince cheque writing institutions.  IFAD has committed to invest $2 billion in AWM toward lifting 80 million people out of poverty in the next three years.