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Technical report of regional conference: Implementing the ECOWAS recommendations on large water infrastructure in West Africa: social dimensions.

Jamie Skinner

Book/Report

The conference was organised by the Water Resources Coordination Centre of ECOWAS (WRCC) and the “Global Water Initiative” (GWI) implemented by the International institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The conference brought together around 50 participants from West Africa representing the different actors and stakeholders involved in the development and construction of large dams: civil society groups, representatives of river users, technical services, dam construction and management organisations, basin organisations, researchers, legal experts and international and regional organisations.

The overall objective of this conference is to share West African experiences of displacement/resettlement and benefit-sharing with local communities, in order to develop consensual tools and approaches for implementing the ECOWAS recommendations. The realities of each country were analysed and the workshop sought to identify and capitalize good practice in the form of advice for the future.

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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