In 2010, less than 4% of cultivated land in Sub-Saharan Africa relied on groundwater for irrigation. Access to groundwater is associated with improved agricultural production, reduced agricultural risk, and improved livelihoods.
Access to groundwater is associated with improved agricultural production, reduced agricultural risk, and improved livelihoods. This is showcased through the Burkinabe communities, the large majority of which reported improved crop and livestock production. In rural Kenya there was only modest use of handpump water supplies for livestock watering and cultivation of pulses.
Comparison of households who have and haven’t adopted groundwater irrigation, show evidence for positive relationships between groundwater irrigation and:
- agricultural productivity,
- fertiliser intensification, and
- labour intensification, which can raise household incomes.
Groundwater irrigation is strongly associated with higher asset holding, but the relationship with welfare is complex and the direction of the relationship is unclear.
Productive use of groundwater in Africa offers many opportunities. Research in Ethiopia indicated that remote sensing information and indigenous knowledge can be combined into simple water balance models and community monitoring that can be used, with appropriate governance, for adaptive use of shallow groundwater for irrigation.
References and further information
- Mati, B et al (2019). Overview of Sugar Industry in Kenya and Prospects for Production at the Coast. Ag. Sci.
- Thompson et al (2019). Six pathways identified for Sustainable Groundwater Futures in Africa.
- Ebrahim et al (2019). Integrated hydrogeological modelling of hard-rock semi-arid terrain: supporting sustainable agricultural groundwater use in Hout catchment, Limpopo Province, South Africa, Hydrogeology Journal,
- Black et al (2016) “The Use of Remotely Sensed Rainfall for Managing Drought Risk: A Case Study of Weather Index Insurance in Zambia” Remote Sens.
- Newcastle University (2014) “Livelihoods and the institutional context: potential opportunities and constraints associated with community management of shallow groundwater irrigation”,
- Forthcoming publications from BRAVE and GroFutures later in 2020.