Water and Agriculture in Africa: The politics of the belly or the politics of the mirror?


Published By

Center on Food Security and the Environment, Stanford University

May 23, 2013

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The water and agriculture glass in Africa is half-empty: Africa has failed to develop its massive water resources and failed to achieve agricultural growth. But the glass is half full, too, as Africa is making a start in building its needed infrastructure and in attracting managerial and knowledge assistance which can help start the needed transformation.

In engaging with this great challenge Africa has to make a choice. Will it continue to follow the path advocated by many in the aid community of the rich countries who say “the soft path”, “no dams”, “the social cart before the economic horse”, “small is beautiful” and “no GMOs”? Or will Africans follow the alternative path that brought food security to Asia and income-enhancing agricultural growth to Latin America? The latter focused on science, infrastructure, management and scale. Will, in short, Africans follow “the politics of the mirror” or the “the politics of the belly”?

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