Africa’s complex hydrological variability complicates water resource management. Even though the continent’s ample water resources are underutilized, conflicts among water uses abound. Because rainfall is exceptionally variable, storing rainwater is critical—yet storage facilities remain inadequate. Similarly, because most of Africa’s major rivers span national borders, international cooperation is essential to resolving conflicts and removing inefficiencies in water use. There is a need to invest heavily in both transboundary river-basin organizations and in water-storage facilities to ensure that water is available when and where it is needed. Africa’s already difficult hydrology will likely become even more challenging with climate change.
Irrigation could boost agricultural yields in water-rich Africa by 50 percent, but it now covers just 5 percent of cultivated land. This report identifies the locations that could benefit most from irrigation and the technologies best suited to them.