Indigenous community-managed irrigation in Sahelian West Africa

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This paper examines the characteristics of successful, locally-sponsored development of irrigated agriculture in the Sahel, through the presentation of a detailed case study. Particular attention is given to physical and organizational characteristics, and the historical development of an indigenous channel network which was designed to convey water from a natural lake to multiple users. Given certain economic and environmental conditions, it was found that necessary local resources could be mobilized for irrigation development and maintenance, independent of outside support from the national government and development agencies. It was also found that local communities were able to establish functional organizational structures necessary for the management of a shared irrigation water distribution system. Lessons derived from this case study could facilitate the development of more sustainable and autonomous irrigation systems in the region.

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Irrigation, Water management, Farmers organizations, International development, Ecosystem
Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 61(2/3): 83-95