African ministers urge water-sharing

African states cannot address climate change alone and must share water for their growing populations, reported Reuters, citing government ministers at a conference in Libya. Delegates said that under-investment, bad farm management and increasingly frequent droughts and floods have left the continent dependent on food imports.

African officials said that governments should continue their 2003 commitment to dedicate 10% of national budgets to boosting farm output. They also called for more modern irrigation systems and additional region-wide deals to share water stored in rivers, lakes and underground.


"Together we must find concrete and effective measures to address the issues of water in Africa, in a spirit of shared responsibility," said Jacques Diouf, director general of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). New water control programmes for African farming would cost US$65 billion over the next 20 years, he added.

The cost of food imports jumped from US$10.5 billion in 2005 to US$49.4 billion in 2008 as world prices soared, according to the FAO. These higher prices have put strains on budgets in countries that subsidise imports to make them more affordable.

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