The World Bank’s Water Global Practice convened a High-Level Dialogue with sector Ministers of Senegal, Mali, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Chad, and development partners. The meeting was an opportunity for the World Bank to share the results of a global and a regional study demonstrating the importance of access to groundwater for climate change resilience in the Sahel.
The global study revealed that, in the event of drought, access to groundwater can lead up to a 50% increase in agricultural yields. The regional analytical work also presents the value-addition of groundwater to enhance pastoral productivity, both for maintaining livelihoods and the ecosystems on which they depend.
This high-level meeting has highlighted the pressing need and promising opportunity to develop groundwater-based irrigation, which remains rare in the Sahel
“This high-level meeting has highlighted the pressing need and promising opportunity to develop groundwater-based irrigation, which remains rare in the Sahel," said Saroj Kumar Jha, Global Director for the World Bank Group’s Water Global Practice. "Groundwater is a vital link between the environment, animal health, and human well-being. The World Bank, through its Cooperation in International Waters in Africa (CIWA) program, aims to facilitate investments that reflect this interconnection. Through the One Health approach, they should result in providing safe water, serving as meeting points for both human and animal vaccination campaigns, and reducing environmental pressure," he added.
Meeting the challenge of sustainable exploitation of this common-pool resource also involves training of the professionals."Groundwater specialists are the key to managing and preserving this resource. Sowing the seeds of knowledge in the fertile minds of young Sahelians will enable them to blossom into a vibrant force of scientific expertise capable of ensuring the sustainable use of groundwater," said Fatouma Touré Ibrahima, World Bank Water Practice Manager for West Africa.
As most groundwater resources in this region are transboundary, the World Bank commends the countries on their determination to strengthen their cooperation. Their collective efforts should help secure this precious resource for generations to come.