The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the International Fund for Agricultural development collaborated on this report on water and rural poverty in sub-Saharan Africa. The paper addresses the potential benefits of water initiatives under a livelihood approach, with special consideration to two major recommendations: that investments in water infrastructure must act in concert with political, institutional, market and other related concerns; and that interventions must be context-specific, given the vast heterogeneity in water use and needs among sub-Saharan African rural poor.
- The relative priorities of different regions in water-related poverty reduction schemes can be determined by considering: prevalence of poverty, extent to which water is a limiting factor on livelihood, and physical availability of additional water for development.
- Using the above criteria, the highest priority zones are those that are agro-pastoral, cereal-based, cereal-root crop, and highland temperate.
- Domestic water supply and sanitation programs have high potential impact among highly vulnerable populations--those with limited access to land and assets.
- Smallholder farmers benefit more from improved rainfed water management, including secure land tenure, guaranteed water access, local community empowerment and access to markets.
- Lowland areas can show greatly improved results from the introduction of simple technologies such as dams, pumps and wells.
- Water governance, institutional capacity, and environmental impact must be given greater consideration in irrigation projects.
- Knowledge of water use and demand in rural communities is scarce. This type of research could improve efficiency of water investments.