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 This site is no longer being updated, but allows access to GWI outputs until 1 October 2020 when it will also close.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.

  • English
  • Français

Adopting more equitable solutions to sharing the benefits of large dams

More than 150 large dams have been built in West Africa over the last 50 years, and many others are planned. These dams will help meet the region’s water, food and energy demands. But dam reservoirs can displace thousands of people, and those affected do not systematically benefit directly from dams.

We believe that participatory, deliberate and well-informed planning will lead to equitable and sustainable water use and influence government policy. For example, using IWRM best practice we have pioneered a “benefit-sharing” approach to the planning and management of large dams in West Africa.

We have analysed “benefit-sharing” and the degree of compensation given for lost assets at 6 existing dams in Burkina Faso, Mali and Senegal, looking carefully at local experience and how the positive impact of large dams can be shared between different stakeholders. 

The documents listed below illustrate how the lessons learned from this benefit-sharing approach can help guide decision-making for the future. 

More resources are available at:



October 2012

Le Comité technique conjoint constitué par cet accord formalise la collaboration en matière de gestion des ressources en eau entre le Mali et le Burkina Faso.

This briefing from IIEDs 'Reflect and act' series showcases our work to improve development outcomes for people affected by the construction of the Kandadji Dam in Niger.

37,891 inhabitants were displaced when the Kandadji dam was built in Niger. We carried out a study of the legal aspects of such displacement, examining ways for the State to optimise its investment whilst also seeking justice for displaced populations.

Drawing on the lessons from nearly 50 years of large dam construction in West Africa, we reviewed the literature and consulted stakeholders and governments to better inform the planning of future dams.