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Sharing the water, sharing the benefits: Lessons from six large dams in West Africa

Edited by Frédéric Bazin, Jamie Skinner, Jérôme Koundouno

Book/Report, 128 pages

Over 150 large dams have been built in West Africa over the last 50 years. Many more are in the planning stages to meet the region’s demands for energy, water and food and their reservoirs will displace many thousands of local people. Success in resettling affected people and in rebuilding their livelihoods has been mixed in the region. This publication reviews detailed experience from six dams in Burkina Faso, Mali and Senegal through the lens of “benefit sharing” with local populations, which asks to what extent the affected communities have indeed benefited from the dam and how the multiple positive consequences from water use have been shared between different actors. The lessons learned from these experiences can guide future decision making.

This report was produced as part of the work by the Global Water Initiative (GWI) in West Africa, which is an initiative funded by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation and implemented by IIED with IUCN.

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Agriculture in large-scale rice irrigation schemes needs to be made to work for both the state, in terms of economic returns and national food security, and for the smallholders whose livelihoods depend on it. When it comes to the development of new dams and large-scale irrigation, more information is needed about their economic viability and how the water, land, and economic benefits can be shared equitably to support local development.

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Global Water Initiative — West Africa