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West Africa's population is expected to grow from the present (2003) level of 260 million to approximately 490 million by 2025. Today, the urban population corresponds to 40 percent of the total and urbanization is expected to continue to increase. With these changing demographics, demand for food will rise in the sub-region during the next 25 years and irrigation will need to expand to meet the urban requirement for fruits, vegetables, rice and fish through aquaculture.

Coastal and inland fisheries are stagnating or declining in the sub-region, which presents a real concern in terms of fish supply and food security. The development of aquaculture appears as a possible solution for this growing supply gap in the future.

The existing population of the region can scarcely be supported by prevailing domestic agricultural production without relying increasingly on irrigation. In the Sahel region, irrigation reduces risks associated with the extreme rainfall variability but is difficult to implement due to this same high unpredictability of available water. This inherent scarceness of water creates an imperative to use whatever is available as rationally and economically as possible. Wherever water is being used, it is critical to examine how it can be reused or how output from current uses can be increased.

Irrigation schemes are logical targets for efforts to enhance water productivity and efficiency. Biological environments created by irrigation schemes are favourable for aquaculture in general, and fish culture in particular. In the case of rice-fish farming, the integration of irrigation and aquaculture is the association of two farming systems, either on the same plot, or on adjacent plots where by-products of one system are utilized as inputs by the other. The aim is to increase the productivity of water, land and associated resources while contributing to increased fish production. The system of integration can be more or less complete depending on the general layout of the irrigated rice plots and fishponds. The fishpond can be located either above the irrigated plots (in this case, the plot is fertilized with water from the fish pond), or on the same plot (where the symbioses is complete), or below the irrigated plot (where fish farming is conducted in the drainage water coming from the irrigated plot). However, the integration of irrigation and aquaculture is not limited to rice-fish farming. Small storage reservoirs in irrigation schemes as well as irrigation canals can be suitable for raising fish using cages or pens.

Several regional and international meetings have established frameworks for programmes of integrated inland water resources management. The Expert Consultation organized jointly in May 1999 in Accra by FAO and the International Programme for Technology and Research in Irrigation and Drainage (IPTRID) on the Water Vision for Food and Rural Development in West Africa, recognized the need to improve water productivity and water efficiency. Increasing water productivity is central to producing food, to fighting poverty and reducing competition for this essential resource. Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) is an important concept that translates the vision into action, promoting the coordinated development and management of water, land and related resources in order to optimize economic and social welfare without compromising the sustainability of ecosystems.

The Ministerial Declaration of the ThirdWorld Water Forum (Japan, 16–23 March 2003), recognizing the increasing pressure on limited freshwater resources and on the environment, emphasized the need for good governance in water management, with stronger focus on household and community-based approaches by addressing equity in sharing benefits, with due regard to pro-poor and gender perspectives in water policies. At the Ministerial Conference, governments committed themselves to the preparation of IWRM plans by 2005 in accordance with the Plan of Implementation of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD, Johannesburg, 26 August–4 September2002).

Fish farming and other forms of aquaculture are one component of integrated water management that produces food of high nutritional quality, and often high economic value. The 21st FAO Regional Conference for Africa (Yaoundé, February 2000) acknowledged the importance of aquaculture and recommended that FAO “assist governments in elaborating effective aquaculture policies and streamlining public sector support to foster increased aquaculture production”. The Conference endorsed the policy objective of increased food production and food security through expansion of efforts in areas of sustainable land and water use development.

The Bangkok Declaration, elaborated during the global Conference on Aquaculture in the Third Millennium (Bangkok, February 2000), echoed these sentiments, stating that “the potential of aquaculture to contribute to food production has not been realized across all continents”while “aquaculture complements other food production systems and integrated aquaculture can add value to current use of on-farm water resources”.

Recognizing the need to expand on these kind of activities in its member countries, the Committee for Inland Fisheries of Africa (CIFA) at its eleventhSession in October 2000 in Nigeria unanimously endorsed the concept of a regional programme on Integrated Inland Water Resources Management in Drought prone West African countries and urged Member Countries and other stakeholders to find funds for its implementation.

In this framework, integrated irrigation and aquaculture (IIA) is a strategy to achieve agricultural productivity from every drop of water while improving the financial sustainability of investments in irrigation. Adopting integrated irrigation and aquaculture through a programme of Integrated Inland Water Resources Management will contribute to improved food security in drought-prone West African countries.

In practice, IIA is not new but simply a statement of a logical approach to resource use that has, in one way or another, been employed by residents of water-scare areas for centuries. Nevertheless, as a formal and structured programme, it represents a new, interdisciplinary approach that has heretofore not been actively promoted or supported. It is important to note that the systems targeted for IIA are integrated; this implies a higher level of interrelationship than more common associations. IIA technologies seek to reuse resources such that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. To alarge extent, these technologies remain to be aggregated and collated in a form that can be effectively distributed to stakeholders.

Much local knowledge exists concerning resource reuse. Floodplains, for example, have traditionally been employed for integrated production systems. Over millennia, farmers and fishers have naturally balanced different production environments and systems for the well-being of their families; these interrelationships being dealt with in time-honoured ways that have become part of rural communities' way of life. Now, as populations concentrate, resources decline and there is an awareness that productivity and efficiency must increase to meet growing needs, these traditional systems must be analysed and used as the bases for integrated resource management, including IIA.

With this in mind, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the West African Rice Development Association (WARDA) jointly organized a workshop on the development of IIA in West Africa in November 2003 in Bamako, Mali. The objectives of this Workshop were to review the achievements and constraints of integrated irrigation and aquaculture activities in the West African sub-region, to develop a common approach and shared methodologies forIIA, and to elaborate national strategies for the promotion of IIA. The findings and recommendations have been summarized in a Report (FAO/WARDA,20051) which highlights appropriate approaches to IIA development in the West African sub-region and elaborates the way forward for national IIA development in the sub-region2.

This volume represents the supplement to this report and contains all the papers presented at the workshop as well as studies and analyses that were commissioned by the FAO in preparation for the workshop. Submitted presentations from the Bamako workshop were technically reviewed by the members of the Technical Secretariat of the Workshop (M.Halwart, I.Beernaerts, C.Brugère, P.Kiepe and J.F.Moehl). All material, including the preparatory studies and analyses, were compiled and edited by M. Halwart and A.A. van Dam.

Many thanks to J. Peterson and A. Coche who assisted with the translation and verification of two documents.It is envisaged that this volume will be made available in French language. The entire document is intended to be available for downloading from the FAO Website (

It is hoped that this volume will make a marked contribution to developing relevant and appropriate IIA systems particularly in food insecure parts of West Africa.

1 FAO/WARDA. 2005. Report of the FAO-WARDA Workshop on Integrated Irrigation Aquaculture, Bamako, Mali, 4–7November 2003. Rome, FAO. 44 pp.

2 The Report also contains the contact details of all 45 country participants and resource persons who attended the workshop.

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