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IWMI Evaluates Agricultural Water Storage in Africa

IWMI logo19 July 2013: Agricultural water storage is expected to contribute to climate change adaptation in Africa by mitigating climate variability, according to an International Water Management Institute (IWMI) research report. The report proposes a diagnostic tool for evaluating the need and effectiveness of water storage options, including aquifers, large reservoirs, natural wetlands, ponds, soil moisture and tanks.

The report, titled 'Agricultural Water Storage in an Era of Climate Change: Assessing Need and Effectiveness in Africa,' outlines the results of applying this diagnostic tool to sub-Saharan Africa, in particular the Ethiopian portion of the Nile and Ghana's Volta Basin.

It finds that the Horn of Africa, the Sahelian zone and southern Africa have the greatest water storage needs, followed by “localized hot spots” in southern Angola, Burundi, Malawi, northern Mozambique, Rwanda and Uganda. In Ethiopia and Ghana, densely populated areas have the greatest water storage needs, rather than the driest areas.

The diagnostic framework considers the need and effectiveness of water storage options under current and future climate conditions using biophysical and demographic indicators. It illustrates that climate change will likely decrease the reliability and resilience of water storage options, although the effects vary across water storage types. The authors, Matthew McCartney, Lisa-Maria Rebelo, Stefanos Xenarios and Vladimir Smakhtin, stress the need for water storage planning and management to maximize complementarity of water storage options and ensure that financial investments in water storage contribute to mitigating climate change impacts.

IWMI is a member of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). [IWMI Press Release] [Publication: Agricultural Water Storage in an Era of Climate Change: Assessing Need and Effectiveness in Africa]