Planning a Sustainable Future


Photo credit: IFAD

With access to water and training, Priscilla began to plant maize, beans, peas and sweet potatoes to sell in local markets and also began to produce chickens and bees.

Water, Rural Livelihoods, Jobs and Food: Planning a Sustainable Future

In the north of Tanzania, Cecilia William used to depend on irregular rainfall to irrigate her crops. As a single mother, she struggled to grow enough to feed her family.

“Life was very difficult. I was not happy at all with the situation,” recalls William.

It was access to water – through an irrigation system installed by the Tanzanian government and supported by IFAD – that finally changed her life. With regular access to water, William became not only a successful farmer but also an innovative entrepreneur, starting her own construction business with the additional income.

“Before I was in total darkness. After I was getting an income, that is when things changed,” said William. “I started thinking about expansion, and a lot of plans came into my head.”

William’s story demonstrates just how essential water is for rural people, not just for their household use and drinking, but to sustain their main form of livelihood—agriculture.

It is estimated that 95 per cent of jobs in the agriculture and the inland fisheries sector are heavily dependent on water. Without access to water, smallholder farmers cannot afford to expand their farms and face the risk of losing their businesses.

This has major implications not only for them but for their communities and the cities that depend on them for food.

Read the full story: IFAD

Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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