Regional Office


 for Africa (RAF)



Land and Water

©FAO/ Modeste Kinane
Most common irrigation method in urban agriculture. One watering can has a capacity of 15 litres

Regional role

The Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) has been endorsed by the African Heads of State and Government for the restoration of agricultural growth, food security, and rural development in Africa.  A specific goal of CAADP is to attain an average annual growth rate of 6 percent in agriculture. Meeting crop water requirement is a pre-requisite for both rainfed and irrigated agriculture. Not surprisingly, the first pillar of the CAADP is the expansion of the area under reliable water control systems and sustainable land management.  Currently, there are only 9 million ha of land under water management in the region, representing 5 percent of the total cultivated area – by far the lowest proportion of any region in the world. In March 2007, the Ouagadougou Call, aimed mainly to decision-makers engaged in agricultural water development in sub-Sahara Africa, recommended that governments and their development partners increase investment in agricultural water development for both improved rainfed and irrigated agriculture and invest in viable and sustainable project, conceived for maximum profitability, poverty reduction and growth.

To address these issues, the RAFT/Land and Water unit (RAFT/NR) of the FAO Regional office focuses on activities to improve the management and sustainable use of land and water resources for food security and improved livelihoods. In the region, RAFT/NR will:

  • promote water resources assessment and monitoring;
  • management and conservation for sustainable agricultural development;
    provide technical advice for identification and formulation of important water issues;
  • promote of most appropriate technologies and management practices and advice with regards to land and water resources programmes.

The unit is also participating in water resources and agricultural sector reviews to identify national/regional needs and to prioritize the management, development and conservation of land and water resources.

Current activities

  • dentification, formulation  and technical backstopping of water control component projects of NPFS and other projects ;
  • Urban and periurban irrigated agriculture;
  • Land and water Knowledge Management;
  • Wetland development and management.

Identification; formulation and technical backstopping of water control component projects

The RAFT/NR unit is participating in the formulation and implementation of water control component projects of National Programmes for Food Security (NPFS) and other Land and Water related projects.

Urban and periurban irrigated agriculture

Urban and periurban irrigated agriculture is now seen as an increasingly important means of contributing to food security in Africa. Due to the increasing population and the consequent demand for more water for several uses, many governments have put in place programmes to conserve water and more attempts are being made by some to recycle wastewater for several uses including agriculture.  Currently, in the absence of any other choice, farmers often use untreated wastewater despite of the potential health risks involved. 

RAFT/NR has initiated two case studies the economic and environmental analysis of irrigation practices in urban and peri-urban agriculture in Benin and Burkina Faso in collaboration with Faculté des Sciences Agronomiques (FSA) of Université d’Abomey Calavi in Cotonou, Benin and the Institut du Développement Rural (IDR) of Université Polytechnique de Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso.

RAFT/NR is also contributing in collaboration with the Sub regional office for West Africa (SFW) to the implementation of the FAO-KNUST project on minimal health risk reduction options for vegetable production in Ghana in the framework of the WHO 2006 guidelines for wastewater use in agriculture.

Wetland development and management

Conservatively, inland valley wetlands (bas-fonds, dambos, vleis, mbugas) in Sub Saharan Africa are estimated to cover about 135 million ha spread over diverse agro-ecological zones.  Less than 2 percent of this is currently being used for agriculture. Most rice in West Africa is produced in inland valleys by small farm holders who use few or no external resources and who have a varying balance between subsistence and commercial objectives. Challenges that preclude the realization of this enormous but fragile potential are lack of appropriate characterization and classification, based on good knowledge of the many interactions that ultimately determine the functions of a wetland, lack of investment in water management techniques and infrastructure development (including roads and markets), social and cultural constraints. RAFT/NR is contributing to the preparation and publication of guidelines on sustainable inland wetland development in collaboration with the Sub regional offices for Southern Africa (SFS), Eastern Africa (SFE), West Africa (SFW) and Central Africa (SFC).

Land and water Knowledge Management, Information Systems, Databases and Statistics

RAFT/NR is working towards updating data and information on formal and informal irrigation within the Region. In collaboration with the Sub Regional office for West Africa and RAFT/ES, the unit is contributing to the development of a methodology to record data and information on formal and informal irrigation in the framework of the national agricultural census. The unit is also contributing to follow up the recommendations of the FAO - ARID Regional Workshop on 'Informal Irrigation: importance and prospects in West and Central Africa' held in Burkina Faso.


Land and Water Unit
FAO Regional Office for Africa
P.O. Box GP 1628
Accra, Ghana