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 This site is no longer being updated, but allows access to GWI outputs until 1 October 2020 when it will also close.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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Irrigated schemes: a practical guide to securing the State and farmers in Niger


In Niger, in a context threatening the sustainability of irrigation schemes, securing land tenure helps sustain the investments of the State and the future of farmers. A practical guide, the Guide to securing land tenure in irrigation schemes in Niger, is now available to accompany and facilitate this operation at the national level.  This fact sheet details the context and the issues that led to the development of this guide and presents its characteristics and structure.

A guide to securing land tenure in irrigation schemes in Niger


According to the census conducted by the Directorate of Development and Economic Analysis of the National Office for Irrigation Schemes (ONAHA), there are 85 irrigation schemes in Niger today, covering approximately 16,000 hectares and employing more than 40,000 farmers. Under the "Kandadji" programme for ecosystem regeneration and development in the Niger Valley, an additional 45,000 hectares are expected to be developed by 2030.

Study on the experience of agricultural advisory services in the new (Kandadji, Famalé and Gabou) and former (Namardé Goungou and Konni) irrigated schemes in Niger


In Niger, the National Office for Irrigation Schemes (ONAHA) sought GWI's support to examine how to improve smallholders’ performance in irrigated schemes. In order to improve agricultural advisory services, this study was conducted through a diagnosis of six schemes (Konni 1, Konni 2, Namardé Goungou, Famalé, Gabou and Kandadji) in order to identify the strengths and weaknesses in the implementation of agricultural advice and water management depending on the age (old, new) and the types of production (rice cultivation, polyculture) of the schemes.

Defining security of land tenure in irrigation schemes in Niger


In Niger the land converted for public use is now facing a dual problem: on one hand, customary landowners or their descendants claim property rights on this space which supposedly belongs to the State, on the other hand, government bodies who manage this area do not have the legal documents to justify the State's rights over the developed (irrigated) land and, consequently, to protect it. How to ensure secure land tenure for the State on the developed land while preserving the legitimate rights of those working the land?

Defining compensation measures for non-landowning producers at Kandadji in Niger


Construction of the Kandadji dam in Niger will involve, among other consequences, the appropriation of agricultural land owned by customary holders but also in many cases sub-holdings of other non-landowners. The government offered a long lease of 50 years for owners in compensation for their expropriated property rights.

How should the State compensate for the loss of the right of use by non-landowners farming land expropriated for the development of the Kandadji dam? This study aims to answer this question and proposes the use of a 'contract of occupation'.

As part of its work around the Kandadji dam in Niger, the National Coordination of Users of the Niger Basin (CNU) organised a televised debate entitled "Kandadji : compensation for agricultural land, what lessons to learn?" with the private television channel Canal3 Niger.


Workshop on irrigated land tenure in the Sahel (Task Force for implementing the 'Dakar Declaration')


This is the report of a workshop held on 8 and 9 June 2015 in Bamako, Mali, to present and discuss the results of a study on securing irrigated land tenure in the six countries within the Permanent Inter-State Committee for the Fight against Drought in the Sahel (CILSS) in the context of the "Dakar Declaration".


This documentary film was prepared by the National Coordination of Users of the Niger Basin in Niger (Niger-CNU) with private TV channel Canal 3 Niger.


Obtaining the consent of affected groups: the example of Kandadji in Niger


Large scale projects such as dams often involve displacing people. Obtaining the agreement and the collective consent of affected groups to compensation measures, in a written form which has legal authority, is not an easy undertaking. Recent experience with the Kandadji Programme, supported by the Global Water Initiative (GWI), shows how, at relatively low cost: (i) the consent of affected groups can be obtained through a collective process, and how (ii) this agreement can be embodied in a document which, in principle, is legally valid proof of the commitment.

Example of record of community consultation ('procès-verbal') on land tenure for people affected by Kandadji dam


Example of the official (signed) record of the consultation of one of the communities affected by the Kandadji dam on the issue of the expropriation of their traditional land for 'public use' and the drawing up of a 'lease in perpetuity' (with its terms and conditions) which aims to provide the community with 'just and prior' compensation and secure land tenure.


Our work in Niger focuses on achieving secure land tenure for both the State and smallholders affected by the construction of Kandadji dam. We are also looking at the overall economic impact of the dam itself in improving livelihoods of the communities it affects, primarily through benefit-sharing mechanisms such as the creation of a local development fund.

Large-scale irrigation in Niger has been a major focus of development since the country’s independence in 1964. However, investment in irrigation schemes has been low over the last two decades, due to a lack of financing and land tenure problems. It is only now starting to grow again.

Kandadji dam

Kandadji dam (currently under construction) is at the heart of government plans to irrigate the Niger Valley in Niger, with a planned 6,000 hectares of developed irrigated land in the current phase, and 45,000 hectares by 2034. The dam site is near the town of Kandadji, in the Tillabéri department, northwest of the capital Niamey.

Construction began in 2008 and is being managed by the High Commission for the Niger Valley (HCAVN), a public body under the Prime Minister's Office. The dam will provide an important hydropower source as well as supporting the development of irrigated agriculture.

The National Office for Irrigation Schemes (ONAHA) was created in 1978 to manage the irrigation schemes and support farmers and producers who work on them. GWI in West Africa works closely with the ONAHA as well as with the HCAVN and local communities and producer groups.

Land tenure: the solution of the long-term lease

In Niger, as in other countries in the region, the success of the irrigated agricultural sector is dependent on resolving issues around land tenure. According to law in Niger, the government can expropriate land if it is deemed to be in the public interest – as is the case with the building of dams and the development of irrigation schemes. However, there is also a legal obligation to compensate the traditional owners of the expropriated land in kind. The government is offering land on the new irrigation scheme to the displaced communities but, as the land will now belong to the state as public property, private land titles cannot be granted.

GWI West Africa has worked with legal experts as well as local stakeholders to develop a proposal for a long term lease. Both the government and the local communities have participated in dialogues and consultations around this proposal and, comments on both sides having been taken into account, there is now agreement from all to go ahead with this innovative land tenure solution.

We are working with ONAHA to implement this new legal solution to secure tenure for one irrigation scheme near Niamey. Based on that experience, we aim to build their capacity – including through the development of an operational guide – to support similar processes in the 73 other irrigations schemes in Niger.

This will include:

  • resolving any disputes over traditional land ownership and compensation
  • mapping and registering the land in the name of government
  • issuing secure legal contracts to all individual famers on the scheme using contract models developed and agreed through our previous work

Our research will also inform the government on inconsistencies in the existing legal framework that hamper effective and transparent decision making around land expropriated by the state for irrigation development.

Find out more about our work on land tenure in relation to Empowering smallholders.

Sharing the benefits through a local development fund: FIDEL-K

The final design studies for the hydropower component of Kandadji dam have now been launched and the public company NIGELEC is expected to manage the plant. GWI West Africa has been helping the Niger authorities design a local development fund (FIDEL-K) which would receive two to three per cent of hydropower revenues at Kandadji.

Over the dam’s 100-year life, this fund would meet the changing needs of local people – such as additional schooling, investments in agriculture or better water supplies – and provide flexible support that reduces dependence on the government to resolve resettlement conflicts. Besides hydropower revenues, shared benefits might include access to irrigated land, a share of electricity, or a structured fishery.

Find out more about our work on Sharing the benefits.