Transitioning to groundwater irrigated intensified agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa: An indicator based assessment

Amjath, Amjath Babu; Krupnik, T.J.; Kaechele, Harald; Aravindakshan, S.; Sietz, D.


Growing populations, changing market conditions, and the food security risks posed by rainfed cropping and climate change collectively indicate that Sub-Saharan African nations could benefit from transforming agricultural production to more intensive yet resilient and sustainable systems. Although highly underutilized, emerging evidence indicates that groundwater may be more widely available than previously thought, highlighting its potential role in facilitating such a transformation. Nevertheless, the possibility for such a transition is conditioned by number of complex factors. We therefore construct a transition index that integrates data considering groundwater and energy availability and cost, market access, infrastructural needs, farm conditions and natural resource stocks, labor availability, climate, population density, as well as economic and political framework variables, using a principal component analysis based methodology. Using the consequent multi-dimensional transition index and constituent intermediate indices, we provide an assessment of groundwater irrigation potential discussed in consideration of Burkina Faso, Ghana, Malawi, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Zambia, Namibia, Cameroon, and Zimbabwe. Our results, though preliminary, provide a methodology for conducting such an integrated assessment, while deriving a holistic set of policy options considering the transition towards appropriate use of groundwater for agricultural development.