Irrigated agriculture in most parts of Sub-Saharan Africa has not been encouraging even with the threat of severe adverse effects of global food and financial crises and a scourge of the consequences of climate change. The situation in the West African Sahel is even more disturbing since it is at the fringe of the Sahara desert and past attempts at irrigation development have been very disappointing. The paper analyses information from an assessment of the extent of use and impacts of micro irrigation technologies in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Senegal, and suggests a future direction for irrigation development in the West African Sahel. It argues for substantial investments by Governments, NGOs and the private sector in development of “low-cost” micro irrigation system. Drip irrigation in the form of the “African Market Garden” (AMG) is a technology that has the potential to drastically reduce mass poverty levels in the Sahel. It has been widely acclaimed by smallholder irrigators in the Sahel as being suitable for the arid environment and it has been shown to be profitable to the farmers. The cost of establishing a viable, effective, and sustainable smallholder drip irrigation system is however above the capabilities of small farmer groups. The suggestion is to institute modified public-private partnership (PPP) methodologies of funding and management of farmer-group drip irrigation systems to ensure, adequate funding and that, viable, sustainable and poverty alleviation systems are established in all parts of the Sahel and in similar areas in Sub-Saharan Africa.


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