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Newsletter and Technical Publications

<Sourcebook of Alternative Technologies for Freshwater Augumentation in Africa>

1.1 FRESH WATER AUGMENTATION

Water augmentation technologies have traditionally been practised in the dry regions of Africa, but with little transfer of information on these technologies to other areas of the continent. Methods of water harvesting for agricultural production usually have the dual function of water supply and soil conservation, and it is often difficult to separate these two functions into their components. It is probably true to generalise that, in the past, governments have been more concerned about soil conservation, whereas communities have been more concerned about water conservation.

It has become evident over the last decade that all areas of Africa are prone to periodic water shortages, whether caused by drought, increased demand or mismanagement. Increased population densities also accelerate land degradation and result in inappropriate settlements in dry regions, thereby further extending the population at risk from low rainfall events. Water shortages, whatever the cause, have a serious effect on livestock survival in the agricultural sector, reducing food production and exacerbating malnutrition, starvation and poverty. A major objective of governments in Africa has been to increase food security and alleviate poverty - difficult objectives to achieve but ones which depend to a great extent upon the more efficient and effective use of water in the agricultural sector.

Experience has shown that the technologies exist in Africa to harvest crops in low rainfall areas, to rehabilitate degraded land, and to protect and increase land productivity through effective water and soil management. The technologies described below provide an introduction to the range of approaches used throughout Africa.

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