The World Food Summit (November 1996) adopted a Global Plan of Action to achieve the objective of food security. The Plan envisaged an effort to eradicate hunger in all countries, with an immediate view to reducing the number of undernourished people to half their present level no later than 2015. The Plan of Action consists of a set of specific recommendations to be implemented by governments in partnership with all actors of civil society, and with the support of international institutions, which among others, includes:
· developing appropriate national and regional policies and plans for water and watersheds, and water management techniques; and
· promoting economically- and environmentally-sound irrigation management, in particular for small-scale irrigation, and sustainable intensification of rainfed agriculture.
Food security is a complex issue. Many factors influence a nation's food security status. However, for many developing countries, increasing national agricultural production will be a major contributing factor to food security. Water, among others, plays a critical role in increasing agricultural production.
The Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS) was launched by FAO in 1994 to assist low-income-food-deficit countries to boost food production in order to meet rapidly growing demands and help eradicate food insecurity. The programme is designed for a phased implementation. The phases include: (i) exploratory mission; (ii) formulation of the national programme; (iii) implementation of the pilot phase; and (iv) expansion phase. The Programme is being implemented in some 29 countries and in a majority of them the pilot phase has begun. The pilot phase consists of four elements: water control, intensification, diversification and analysis of constraints to food security.
In order to ensure that the SPFS and other efforts successfully achieve food security there is an urgent need to create an enabling environment at national and local levels. This environment will allow the management of natural resources, improve access to modern and cost-effective technologies and mobilize human and financial resources for accelerated agricultural development.
A number of studies carried out on irrigation development in sub-Saharan Africa during the last two decades indicated that, among others, lack of access to affordable and water-saving irrigation technologies, particularly by small-scale farmers, was a major constraint to irrigation development. This prompted FAO and the International Program for Technology Research in Irrigation and Drainage (IPTRID) jointly to launch a series of missions on irrigation technology transfer and adoption in selected countries in East and Southern Africa. The missions confirmed the hypotheses that: (a) there is under-utilized potential of rainfed lands which are close to water sources and could therefore be irrigated. If low-cost pumping is made available it would increase local production significantly; (b) the involvement of the private sector in the manufacture, supply and servicing of equipment for small-scale irrigation is essential to make equipment easily accessible to farmers; and (c) irrigation equipment in East and Southern African countries is much more expensive than in Asian countries, in general, and particularly in India and China (up to five times). Promotion of irrigation technology transfer and adoption is, therefore, one of the key elements to achieve food security in developing nations.
This Subregional Workshop on Irrigation Technology Transfer in Support of Food Security was organized to share the findings of the missions and other relevant information related to the subject with the stakeholders of small-scale irrigation development in East and Southern African countries and formulate a plan of action to promote irrigation technology transfer and adoption in support of small-scale irrigation development and thereby contribute to food security. The Workshop was funded by FAO, IPTRID and the Global Water Partnership (GWP). It was attended by some sixty participants including government-nominated experts, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), irrigation equipment manufacturers and suppliers (private sector), resource persons, representatives of specialized institutions, and multi- and bilateral agencies. The Workshop discussed the issues and opportunities in irrigation technology transfer and adoption and recommended actions to be undertaken by national governments in collaboration with NGOs, the private sector and relevant international institutions.
The Proceedings contain two main parts. Part I presents the recommendations of the Workshop adopted by the participants at the plenary session and the recommendations of the Working Groups. Part II contains the technical papers presented by resource persons and representatives of the irrigation equipment manufacturing and supplying sector. The papers have been edited and condensed, where necessary, to keep within limits specified for the publication. The annexes provide related information such as a summary report of the Workshop, opening and closing addresses and the programme.