Infertile Land in Gambia Put to Plough Due to Joint AfDB/IFAD/Government Watershed Management Project

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More than 140,000 poor people, of whom 52% are women across the Gambia have enjoyed greatly increased crop output after formerly unproductive land was put to the plough as a result of a USD 17.5 million watershed management project, started in 2006 and co-financed by the African Development Bank (AfDB), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Gambian government.

The project, called the Participatory Integrated Watershed Management Project (PIWAMP), was developed to solve the problems of water management and soil degradation around the country. 

The land that was the subject of PIWAMP could not be cultivated due to lack of access to some of the fertile lowland areas and soil erosion in upland areas.

The outcomes of the project were dykes, spillways, contour and diversion bunds and the prevention of flooding.  Almost 6,000 hectares of lowlands became productive as a result of the work.

The main beneficiaries were smallholders dependent on the traditional upland crops of groundnuts, millet, sorghum and maize and on lowland rice-growing.

In fact, total crop production shot up to more than five times to 25,500 tonnes a year from the previous output of just 4,500 tonnes.  The contribution of the land improved by the project to national rice production increased to more than 12 percent from four percent before.

The project also rebuilt roads and bridges in the areas and provided safer drinking water for livestock during the dry season.

Funding of USD 7.081 million was provided by the AfDB’s Nigeria Trust Fund, with IFAD contributing an equal amount.  Other funding came from the Gambian government (USD 1,712 million) and beneficiaries (USD 1.652 million).