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CILSS Day focuses on water and agriculture

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On the occasion of the 31st CILSS Day, the Malian President and current CILSS chairman, Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta (IBK), raised awareness about the importance of water for the Sahel and West Africa’s social and economic development. In his video message, he called for national and regional policies to support sustainable management of agricultural water resources. Water resource management will also help address the many challenges that the region faces such as food security, resilience and climate change. Contrary to common belief, Sahelian and West African countries have many water resources that remain unexploited, including surface water and groundwater reserves. Water scarcity is mostly a result of institutional and structural weaknesses. Despite this potential, agriculture remains mostly rain-fed and thus dependent on climate conditions. According to IBK, there are many obstacles that impede progress including:  misguided project-funding priorities, poor governance practices, lack of ownership of water management systems, weak private-sector participation, land issues and poor water management in the agricultural sector. However, solutions exist. In 2013, CILSS teamed up with the World Bank to launch an initiative to support irrigated agriculture in the Sahel. The Sahel Irrigation Initiative Support Project (SIIP), worth USD 173 million, plans to more than double the irrigated areas of six Sahelian countries (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal) by 2020.

Watch President IBK’s video message
Find out + about the SIIP Project (French)