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Land and Water Rights in the Sahel: Tenure challenges of improving access to water for agriculture

edited by Lorenzo Cotula

Book/Report, 88 pages

The study supports a process of policy debate and exchange of experience on how to tackle issues raised by the interface between water and land rights in the Sahel. It involves a range of actors working to improve access to water - policy makers, development practitioners, user and producer associations, community leaders and other civil society actors - and discusses practical ways to take account of land tenure issues in water programmes. The study focuses on irrigation and pastoral water points, and also explores issues concerning linkages between rights over water, land and other natural resources in wetlands. The focus is on the Sahel, particularly Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, but relevant material from other Sahelian countries provides additional insights and reference is made to developments in other sub-Saharan African countries. The study draws on a review of legislation, a literature review, unpublished research material, and original fieldwork.

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In the Sahel, rain-fed farming and pastoralism are the main livelihood sources. In the past few decades, efforts have been made to improve the water infrastructure in rural areas – for example through the creation of new water points and irrigation schemes. These efforts have often failed to consider governance and property rights issues - who decides what and how, and who has right over what before and after the water development project.

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Land and water rights in the Sahel