The Global Water Initiative (GWI) was an action-research and advocacy programme that ran from 2008-17. The project is now closed. This site is no longer being updated, but allows access to GWI outputs until 1 October 2020 when it will also close. After that date, information about the project and core GWI technical publications will continue to be available from the IIED website and Publications Library.

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Our work in Senegal focuses on supporting smallholders who are farming, transforming and trading rice in the irrigated area around the Niandouba and Confluent dams in the Anambé river basin. We are also looking at the overall economic impact of the dams, both in terms of their overall return on investment, and in terms of how they improve the livelihoods of the affected communities.

Irrigated agriculture, and rice in particular, play a key role in national food security policies, namely through the National Social and Economic Development Strategy (SNDES) and the National Rice Self-Sufficiency Plan (PNAR).

Niandouba and Confluent dams

In order to reduce Senegal’s cereal production deficit and to bolster the livelihoods of local producers through irrigated agriculture, the national authorities decided in the 1970s to develop the Anambé river basin. The basin (which covers an area of 1,100km²) is in the Haute-Casamance area in the Kolda region in southern Senegal and is drained by the Kayanga river and its tributary, the Anambé river. In 1984, a dam was built at the confluence between the two rivers, followed in 1997 by the construction of a second dam on the Kayanga river at Niandouba. The dams, known as the Niandouba and Confluent dams, are interlinked and work together to provide water for the irrigation schemes, which cover 5,000 hectares.

There are seven local districts (known as ‘communes rurales’) in the area covered by the Anambé river basin. The development of the area reshaped local livelihood systems and gave irrigated agriculture a central role, although there remains a strong pastoralist tradition amongst the people living in the Anambé basin.

The Society for Agricultural and Industrial Development in Senegal (SODAGRI) was created in 1974 as a public limited company with technical oversight from the Ministry of Agriculture and is responsible for the management of Niandouba and Confluent dams and the associated irrigation schemes.

Reducing conflict over land through community participation

Access to water and the use of land in the irrigation schemes can often be a source of conflict between farmers and pastoralists. During 2012-2013, GWI West Africa worked with four communities in the Anambé river basin to promote understanding and implementation of local resource use agreements known as ‘Land use and allocation plans’ (Plans d’occupation et affectation des sols – POAS). The proposed structure of these agreements were set out as far back as 2008, but there had not been any information dissemination or capacity building to implement them. Following our work with local communities and the SODAGRI on the POAS, the number of conflicts over land use dropped dramatically in the communities involved.

Assessment of rice-producing smallholders

We have looked at the different types of rice producers in the irrigated perimeters of the Niandouba and Confluent dams and in particular at how their methods of farming differ and consequently how their needs differ. We carried out similar research in Mali and Burkina Faso and in 2014 published a synthesis of the findings which provides a comparative analysis across all three countries.

Agricultural advisory services

Our research on the issues faced by rice-producing smallholders has indicated two important areas that need to be addressed to support productivity and livelihoods of smallholders in Senegal:

  • Improved agricultural advisory services
  • Strong farmer organisations

We are working with all the stakeholders concerned in the irrigated perimeter of the Niandouba and confluent dams – including both SODAGRI and local farmer organisations – to identify the key challenges to establishing improved and appropriate agricultural services.

Find out more about our work on agricultural advisory services in relation to Empowering smallholders.

An economic assessment of Niandouba and Confluent dams

In parallel to our work with smallholder rice producers, we are also carrying out an economic analysis of the Niandouba and Confluent dams to evaluate the impact that they have had both as a national investment, and in terms of local livelihoods.

We are undertaking similar analyses in Burkina Faso and Mali, which will help us to draw out some comparisons and conclusions at a regional level. This forms part of our wider work on developing awareness and debate about the livelihood impacts and economic viability of intensive, large scale irrigation schemes.

Find out more about our work on Quality investments.