Partnership for agricultural water for Africa

Our Story

In June of 2002, the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) was endorsed by the African Ministers assembled at the FAO Regional Conference for Africa.

The CAADP provides a framework for restoring agricultural growth, rural development and food security in the African region. It has four key focus areas, so called Pillars, for agricultural improvement and investment. Pillar 1 deals with land and water management, aiming at extending the area under sustainable land management and reliable water control systems.

A year later, in Maputo, the Heads of State and Governments of the African Union committed themselves to allocating at least 10 percent of their national budgetary resources for agriculture and rural development.

Building on CAADP goals and countries’ commitments and as a response to declining levels of investment in agricultural water, the AfDB, FAO, IFAD, IWMI and the World Bank came together in 2007 and jointly prepared a collaborative agricultural water strategy: “Investment in agricultural water for poverty reduction and economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa”. With the objective of promoting Agricultural Water Management and revitalizing interest in AWM in Sub-Saharan Africa, the strategy reviewed the experience to date of agricultural water investment in the region and identified the conditions for successful investment in sustainable, cost-effective agricultural water development. The strategy was first presented in a workshop that was held in March 2007 in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. The workshop was attended by over 130 experts and managers from 32 African countries that made a call for substantial investment in water to increase food production and achieve the MDG 1 goal.

In March 2008, during the first Africa Water Week, the African Minister’s Council on Water (AMCOW) called on NEPAD to inaugurate a new partnership – Agricultural Water for Africa (AgWA) – that would re-engage African countries, donors, as well as regional and international organisations in the development of water resources for food production, economic growth and poverty reduction. The partnership was inaugurated during the same week. It met again in November 2008 to set the foundations of the partnership and also one month later in Sirte (Libya), during the ministerial conference on water for Agriculture and Energy in Africa to agree on the Partnership Document.

In March 2010 an interim Secretariat was established at the African Development Bank (AfDB). Following the activation of the Secretariat, major building blocks were prepared for AgWA to operate as a platform for AWM collaborations and joint ventures. After consultations in the African sub-regions and analytical exercises on the status of AWM promotion in Africa, AgWA was re-launched at the AgWA Partners’ Meeting in January 2011 when a number of key decisions were made on the partnership’s way forward, including on the AgWA governance structure, advocacy and communication activities and other important steps. Progress in building a mature partnership was made in 2011, in particular with the relocation of the AgWa Secretariat to the FAO sub-regional office for East Africa in Addis Ababa and by becoming fully operational thanks to a grant by IFAD.