Sound water management key to building resilience in Africa's Sahel region

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An irrigation channel in Chad (FAO@Sia Kambou)

Sound water management holds the key to building resilience in Africa’s Sahel and can free rural communities from the vicious cycle of weather-related food security crises that have plagued the region over recent years. That according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Director-General José Graziano da Silva.

He told a high level meeting on resilience in the Sahel, focusing on irrigation and water management, that with both drought and flooding posing recurring challenges to the livelihoods of farmers and pastoralists, “water is often a problem in the Sahel, whether too much or too little. And the poorest and most vulnerable are the most affected”.

Despite the often harsh agro-climatic and environmental conditions in the Sahel, Graziano da Silva argued that “The region’s agriculture potential, when properly mobilized, could easily go beyond local sales and serve regional and even international markets.”

He said to unlock that potential, more effective, sustainable and integrated management of water resources for agricultural productivity and rural development is necessary.

The FAO chief urged governments, development partners, academia, civil society and private sector participants at the Dakar meeting to be creative and uncompromising in their search for solutions.

“We have the tools to transform the vulnerable communities of the Sahel into much stronger and more resilient communities, and we cannot wait anymore for the next drought or the next flood,” he concluded.

The meeting was attended by participants from Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Senegal.

Donn Bobb, United Nations.

Duration: 1’32″

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