The Sahel and the Future of water: A new chapter thanks to PARIIS
The Sahel, a region grappling with an arid and semi-arid climate, faces a major challenge: the effective management of water and irrigation. This area, marked by significant water challenges, is experiencing the exacerbated effects of climate change, rapid urbanization, and sustained population growth. The unequal access to potable water and the dependence of agropastoralists on precarious irrigation systems have a direct impact on food security and sustainable development. Thus, water management, by adopting innovative solutions and promoting cross-border collaboration, has become an absolute priority.
To address these issues, the Regional Support Project for the Sahel Irrigation Initiative (PARIIS) was implemented. This six-year project, planned to run until March 2024, aims to improve water resource management and increase the area of irrigated land. The goal is to support agricultural development and address the challenges posed by climate change. Active in several Sahel countries, including Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, and Chad, PARIIS has already transformed irrigation practices and improved water management in the region. It is funded by the World Bank with $170 million and co-financed by Spanish Cooperation for 40 million euros, specifically targeting Mali, Niger, and Senegal.
This project aims to develop about 25,000 hectares, directly affecting over 90,000 people. It promotes advanced irrigation technologies and water conservation methods, optimizing the use of every drop. This strategy aims to increase the resilience of rural communities to climate hazards and to boost agricultural production, a key element for the region’s food security.
Cross-border cooperation is a pillar of PARIIS, fundamental in a region where water resources are shared among several countries. This collaboration enables a fairer and more sustainable management of water for agriculture. Additionally, PARIIS focuses on environmental sustainability, helping to preserve the Sahel’s ecosystems and combat desertification. Increased agricultural yields, thanks to improved irrigation, stimulate economic development, essential for the Sahel.
As PARIIS approaches its conclusion, its legacy and prospects remain promising. The innovations introduced by the project pave the way for more resilient and effective water management, crucial for a prosperous and sustainable Sahel. PARIIS establishes itself as a successful example of water resource management in challenging environments, offering a vision of a transformed Sahel where water is synonymous with prosperity and hope.
The Network of Farmers’ and Agricultural Producers’ Organizations of West Africa (ROPPA), in collaboration with the Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS), both stakeholders in the project, are considering organizing a Regional Knowledge Sharing Fair on jointly developed irrigation solutions before the end of the project. We will return to the details of this fair in our upcoming publications, highlighting the importance of these exchanges for the future of irrigation in the region.
Communication and Knowledge Management Officer