Small reservoirs in Africa: a review and synthesis to strengthen future investment

Small reservoirs are a critical coping mechanism in water-stressed rural areas in Africa, providing immense livelihood benefits that include improved food and water security, entrepreneurial activities and climate resilience. Challenges associated with the implementation of investments in small reservoirs include appropriate site selection, weak institutions, insufficient maintenance and sedimentation. The findings from this study suggest that the benefits of small reservoirs may be tapped more efficiently by rehabilitating old sites rather than building new infrastructure. However, the findings also point to broader lessons on the need to change the way of doing business, i.e., to adopt a long-term, more holistic approach (or model) to the construction and maintenance of small reservoirs that matches the degree of the challenge associated with sustainably tapping the benefits of the water that they store.

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