Securing Water for Agriculture in West Africa; SEWAWA (Ghana Component)


sewawa-project-768x474SEWAWA stands for “Securing Water for Agriculture in West Africa”. It is a regional project that seeks to implement an integrated collection of innovative agricultural water management technologies/solutions for smallholder agriculture development, in selected countries of West Africa. This document of SEWAWA only focuses on Northern Ghana, which is the target area in Ghana. The slogan for the SEWAWA project is one more drop, one more grain; this is to suggest that the additional drop of water for a farmer could provide an additional crop.  


Agriculture is still a major contributor to Ghana’s economy. The sector is estimated to contribute about 21 percent of Ghana’s GDP, but it is the main source of income for majority of the population. Approximately 80% of Ghana’s total agricultural output is on smallholder basis, with more than 90% being less than 2 ha. Northern Ghana has been described as part of the breadbasket regions of Ghana, unfortunately food production is currently at a third of the actual production potential. This gap is largely attributed to the rain-fed nature of Ghana’s agricultural system, coupled with the growing impacts of climate change. The manifestation of climate change is the occurrence of flooding, water logging and prolonged drought. The impact of this is the high food scarcity rate and malnutrition especially among children and women, and the low household incomes of farmers which is having a direct relationship with poverty. Thus, the World Bank (2013) described the three northern regions as the poorest regions in Ghana. The situation is expected to worsen as it is estimated that crop yield from rain fed agriculture will decrease by 50 percent by 2020, and crop net revenues for farmers will reduce by 90 percent (IPCC, 2007).


Northern Ghana has the potential to produce a significant bulk of Ghana’s agricultural needs, and thus become a food secure and an economically vibrant region. This is in view of the significant land and water resources within the region. Additionally, over 80 percent of the inhabitants within the region are engaged on agriculture related activities particularly farming. Agriculture thus provides an opportunity to enhance food security, nutrition and incomes of poor households in Northern Ghana. Double season cropping is essential for agricultural development in the region.  Namara (2012) asserted that dry season irrigation ( normally ranging from 5-7 months) can contribute to gross margins between $1500 and $4200 per ha per season in Ghana. Unfortunately access to water particularly for dry season cropping is the main challenge. Additionally, the Millennium Development Authority (2012) asserted that agricultural productivity within the region could increase 100-200 percent under improved water and land management conditions. A suite of irrigation technologies which have been proven successful in other parts of the world have the potential to be implemented in Northern Ghana. These will form the focus of the SEWAWA project.


The SEWAWA Project proposes to utilize a market based approach to promote the adoption of these agricultural water management technologies. The project will promote modern innovative technologies and improved forms of traditional water conservation systems. They include

Shallow wells, PAVE irrigation technology, Barsha pumps, Oryon water mill, Community water embankment systems and Small dams.


Northern Ghana is a very huge landscape, and thus the SEWAWA project will be implemented in phases, subject to funding resources available/obtained. The project anticipates directly benefiting 200,000 farmers. Based on a ratio of one farmer to a household of five people, the SEWAWA project will indirectly impact 1,000,000 people in Northern Ghana. 


The SEWAWA project will have the following impacts on the people of Northern Ghana:


The implementation and subsequent impact of the SEWAWA project will require funds from all donors. The financial target for the project is 10 Million USD for a 5 year duration. No amount is too small; we encourage all to donate to support sustainable livelihoods and food security among poor rural households.  A $50 donation can support the construction of at least a shallow well to conserve water for dry season farming for a family of 5


The SEWAWA project is structured on four main pillars as shown below (fig 1). This includes the focus on the entire value chain, aimed at ensuring sustainability while safeguarding farmer’s access to food and incomes.

Fig 1: Pillars of SEWAWA project

sewawa project

To learn/partner/fund/ donate towards the SEWAWA project, please contact

Paa Kofi Osei-Owusu

Resource and Grants Manager

Conservation Alliance International

P.O. Box KA 30426, Airport-Accra.