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Last Updated: Sunday, 16 January, 2005, 10:55 GMT
Huge irrigation plan for Africa
Dr Bruce Lankford
Dr Bruce Lankford is writing a strategy for water irrigation in Africa
A scheme to irrigate five million hectares of Africa has been put forward by an expert on water resources at the University of East Anglia.

Dr Bruce Lankford has been asked by the Prime Minister Tony Blair's Commission for Africa to write a strategy for investment in water irrigation.

His proposal, if adopted, could see the project up and running by 2015.

It would allow more land to be farmed for food and help alleviate food shortages and poverty in Africa.

The scheme would cost about $2bn per year.

Dr Lankford, based at the Norwich-based UEA's School of Development Studies, said he was "honoured" to be able to draw up the project, but added that it is "frighteningly complicated".

"It is not just a question of distributing the aid and new technology - we must open our eyes to the long-term risks as well," he said.

Dr Bruce Lankford and African farmers discuss irrigation projects
Dr Bruce Lankford has worked extensively in Africa

"For example, a new irrigation scheme can deprive communities downstream of water. Inevitably, this can lead to competition, conflict and possible failure of the new schemes."

Bringing 20 years experience of working in irrigation in Africa and Asia, Dr Lankford has just completed the 27-page strategy document for the Commission.

Prof Michael Stocking, head of Development Studies at UEA, said: "We are totally committed to responding to the needs of the poorest in developing countries.

"Bruce Lankford's outstanding research on making irrigation water accessible to small farmers in Africa is just one example of our initiatives worldwide."

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19 Oct 04 |  Science/Nature

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