The AfDB Finances Local Small-scale Irrigation in Senegal

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Senegal is a Sahelian country that relies heavily on agriculture. This sector faces weather vagaries and a decline in rainfall during recent decades (200 mm in 30 years). To address this situation and complete the development of the Senegal River valley, the Senegalese government sought to value runoff water resources available in the country.

The project

Accordingly, during the early 2000s, the Project to Support Local Small-scale Irrigation (PAPIL) was designed with the sector objective of contributing to poverty reduction and food security improvement, through the promotion of water mobilisation infrastructure and climate change adaptation measures. In October 2003, the AfDB approved funding for this project, which is located in four regions: Fatick, Kédougou, Kolda and Tambacounda.

The African Development Bank (AfDB) funded the project through an initial African Development Fund (ADF)  loan of USD 22.2 million, which closed in December 2011 and a supplementary loan of USD 13 million, which will close in December 2013. Since 2011, the Islamic Development Bank (co-funded the project with a loan of almost USD 14.5 million.

The activities carried out under the project, according to a participatory planning approach, provided for:

  • development of more than 100 small runoff control structures and facilities (micro-dams, weirs, ponds, bottomlands, small irrigated schemes, etc..),
  • rehabilitation of degraded lands,
  • improving the livelihood of the target population
  • advisory support measures and construction of a basic socio-economic infrastructure.


From 2006 to date, the project has helped to develop 107 runoff control structures and schemes, as follows:

  • three major dykes and water crossing structures,
  • 32 micro-dams and weirs,
  • 31 small anti-salt structures,
  • 19 pastoral ponds,
  • 10 micro-irrigation schemes,
  • 12 developed bottomlands.

The total area of degraded land regenerated stands at 2,785 ha, including 1,867 ha of previously brackish land and 918 ha of land degraded by wind and water erosion.

The 223 basic socio-economic facilities built comprise local health units, classrooms, water infrastructure, harvest and post-harvest equipments and storage facilities. In terms of capacity building, 11,000 farmers were trained.


Due to these achievements, the project helped:

  • significantly increase the potential of farmland: 241 ha in 2003 to 4,000 ha in 2011,
  • increase rice yields: 1t/ha in 2003 to 3-6 t/ha in 2011,
  • develop rice production: 810 tons in 2007 to 15,750 tons in 2011,
  • develop horticultural production: 460 tons vegetables in 2007 to 4.650 tons in 2011,
  • achieve rice self-sufficiency for 6 to 8 months, for the populations of villages with developed sites,
  • boost the incomes of over 7000 farmers by more than 50 percent.

The construction of small water control structures at low cost but with significant economic and social benefits helped, in some sites, to have three horticulture cropping seasons in one year.

The implementation of PAPIL led to the emergence of growth hubs around developed sites, marked by the birth of new economic activities. It was also concomitant to a sustainable and concerted management of natural and agro-forestry-pastoral resources, taking into account the effects of climate change as well.


Implementation of the activities of the local development fund set up under the project has also helped to satisfy the population's basic needs, in terms of access to basic social services and to ease the tasks often performed by women.

In light of PAPIL's significant results, the development of small-scale irrigation at the local level appears to be an appropriate response to fight poverty. Strategic thinking, initiated in relation to the harnessing of run-off water and drawing on PAPIL's experience, should eventually lead to the development of a countrywide programme.