Water security for food security: gaps, needs and potential for growth in Sub-Saharan Africa

Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is faced with deep rooted poverty, malnutrition and inadequate food production. Key contributory factors include high population growth, low agricultural productivity, high natural and man-made tragedies such as climatic variability and change, conflicts and war. About 70% of SSA's economy is dependent on agriculture and the majority of the population is engaged in agriculture. This paper focuses on challenges and opportunities related to the development of physical capital, with special emphasis on the development of agriculture and water infrastructure in SSA. It also summarizes aspects with respect to communication, road infrastructure etc. Key challenges in relation to water supply and sanitation, agricultural productivity and its gap, influence of climate variability, water scarcity, and inadequate infrastructure are discussed. The paper further examines the potential and opportunities for infrastructure development to contribute to improving land and water productivity in agriculture. It points out that while SSA has adequate natural capital, productivity enhancement is constrained by relatively low levels of development of physical, human, financial and social capita; hence, the need for investment to improve access to domestic and agricultural water, energy generation, communication, road infrastructure, etc. It concludes that it is possible to achieve a green revolution in Africa, if through a judicious mix of expansion and intensification in agriculture through investments for improving agricultural water management, access to high yielding varieties and improved soil fertility management combined with policy and coping mechanisms against factors such as shocks associated with climate variability and climate change.

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Paper presented at the First African Water Week, “Accelerating Water Security for Socio-Economic Development of Africa”, Tunis, Tunisia, 26-28 March 2008

 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2018-01-23

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