Using several independent sources (national statistics and independent reports and peer papers), the study has found multiple pieces of evidence that since the 1990s provincial adoption rates have been a minimum of 10-20% in provinces with >700 mm of rainfall and up to 40% in several other provinces. Over the same time period, regional cereal yields have had similar rates of increase (ca 3%) as the adoption of soil water conservation and small reservoir expansion. The link to poverty and food security is less clear, highlighting that at the provincial and regional scale much more data is needed to establish the causality between AWM adoption, crop yields and poverty/food security impacts. Multiple methods exist for developing knowledge on provincial and regional level AWM technology adoption and livelihood impacts, but such information is not readily available in the public domain for decision making, research or policy. The methods for measuring indicators of development impact should be explored further. It is particularly critical to capture indicators linking field-scale improvements to the broader socioeconomic and institutional pro-poor development agenda of rural livelihood systems in semi-arid West Africa.

This work is based on the presentation Cases of successful adoption of agricultural water management interventions: What can we learn?’ by Barron et al., at the Third International Forum on Water and Food, held from November 14 to 17, 2011, in Tshwane, South Africa, and the review by Douxchamps et al. (2014) Taking stock of forty years of agricultural water management interventions in smallholder systems of Burkina Faso. Ultimately, we seek to address a knowledge gap on what technologies are in use, and what large-scale impacts on yields can be explained by this technology uptake.

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