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IFPRI Paper Stresses Impact of Irrigation on Nutrition, Health and Gender in Africa

April 2013: Underscoring the challenge of addressing low agricultural productivity in Sub-Saharan Africa, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) has released a discussion paper that examines the dynamics of small-scale and and large-scale irrigation development on issues related to environmental and social sustainability.

The paper, titled "The Impact of Irrigation on Nutrition, Health and Gender," notes that agriculture in Africa south of the Sahara is still largely rainfed and that the region exhibits the lowest crop yields for major staples in the world. It warns that rainfed agriculture poses growing production risks due to increasing climate variability and change.

The paper concludes by calling for the assessment of irrigation potential to go beyond large scale versus small scale to integrate concerns regarding environmental sustainability, resource use efficiency, nutrition and health impacts, and women's empowerment. It encourages implementers to consider the differential impacts of irrigation activities on different household members, and to design projects accordingly.

IFPRI is a member of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). [Publication: The Impact of Irrigation on Nutrition, Health and Gender]