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Two Reasons why Water Resources and Traditional Rain-fed Farming in West Africa have Declined

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Two Reasons why Water Resources and Traditional Rain-fed Farming in West Africa have Declined


Declining water resources are one of the causes of the efforts to raise the productivity of the traditional rain-fed farming in West Africa and have affected the growing season and water conservation. With the shortage of water comes the potential for conflict between several African countries.

Water resources are declining in West Africa. The annual renewable water resources in West Africa reported by the World Bank in 1994 was about 350 billion cubic meters (1 cubic meter = 35.3 cubic feet). This averages out to 1,400 cu m per person per year, which is less than 20 percent of the world median water consumption per person (Rogers, 1997, 1). Water availability per capita is predicted to drop to less than one-half the present inadequate levels by 2025 (Ayub, 1994,1).

North African countries are also entering a critical dilemma regarding declining water resources. At the rates of their water consumption, all available water resources will be used up within 15 years. In both the northern and western regions, water demand is continuing to rise because of growing populations and expanding economies. For instance, in Burkina Faso, the women must walk 20 miles just to get a jar of water for their families (Ayub, 1994, 1).

Traditional rain-fed farming in West Africa has always been difficult. Seven of the West African countries are among the poorest in the world,1 so they have to continue the traditional method. Despite the extremely harsh environment, agriculture plays the most important factor in the economy. Farming supports 75 - 90 percent of the population while only four percent of the land can be classified as arable. The d...


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...l. 159 (July, 1993): 209-218.

Ayub, Mahmood Ali, and Ulrich Kuffner. "Water Management in the Maghreb." Finance and Development. no Vol no. (June 1994): 28-29.

Day, John C. Soil and Water Management in West Africa." Foreign Affairs. 289 (October 23, 1989): 1-10.

Pearce, Fred. "Water Supply: The World's Next Challenge." New Scientist. 129 (March 23, 1991): 34-40.

Moorehead, R. "Access to resources in the Niger Inland delta, Mali. Environmental Issues in African Development Planning. Ed. J. Seeley and W. M. Adams.

Rogers, Peter. "Water Crisis in the Middle East and North Africa." Britannica Online. [CD-ROM.] http://www.eb.com:180/cgi-bin/g?DocF=boy/98/L04181. html&bold=on&sw=. 1998.

Scudder, Thayer. "River Basin Projects in Africa." Environment. 31 (March, 1989): 4-31.

Starr, Joyce R. Starr. "Water Wars." Foreign Policy. 82 (Spring 1991): 17-36.


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