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Saturday, December 3, 2011

Signing away the future by African govts

The International Institute for Environmental and Development (IIED) has alleged risk for the signing away water rights for decades by African governments without considering the effects to the continent and common people.

They also alleged that though there are endless opportunities in the deal, it could cause great harm if local people are being excluded from decisions about the allocation of land and if there is no protection for the land right.

Researchers at IIED in a public statement made available to NaijaAgroNet, cautioned that the signing away water rights was done in a way that would harm the future prospects of Africans, with fishermen and pastoralists are the main professions to share greater part of the damage as they have much reliance on water.

Few African countries, they further said, are trying to curb the harm as investors in Mali and Sudan have unrestricted access to as much water as they need.

Lorenzo Cotula, who co-authored a study report of land acquisition said companies that acquire land for irrigating farming will want secured water rights but long-term contractual commitments can jeopardize water access for local farmers.

“This affects not only the people who have customarily used the land that is being leased, but also distant downstream users who can be hundreds of kilometers away and even across an international border,” Cotula said.

Recalling that the Ethiopian government already allocated a large portion of land for irrigation in the Gibe III dam, but the study revealed that it would lower the level of Kenya's Lake Turkana which half a million Kenyans depends on.

A principal researcher at IIED Jamie Skinner who also led the study said the global water crisis is a crisis of water management and not of water quality.

“Good water management in the face of climate change is only possible if it is clear who the water belongs to, who holds rights to its use and when allocations to all users are made in a transparent way,” he said.

Yinka Awosanya
... Linking agrobiz, people & technology

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