The West African Centre for Water, Irrigation and Sustainable Agriculture (WACWISA) of the University for Development Studies (UDS) has held the 2022 International Conference on Irrigation and Agriculture Development (IRAD 2022). The conference, a third in the series after the earlier ones in 2018 and 2020, took place at the UDS-International Conference Centre on 22nd and 23rd of February, 2022.
The theme of the Conference “Mining, Water Resources Management and Environmental Sustainability in Africa: Opportunities and Challenges” brought together practitioners, academics, researchers, policy-makers, civil society, community/traditional leaders, farmers agricultural extension agents, irrigation consultants, irrigation facility contractors, technical experts, students, amongst other stakeholders.
Professor Gabriel Ayum Teye, Vice-Chancellor of UDS, speaking during the Conference in Tamale, said the University was an important player in the global system. He revealed that “A Conference like this is very critical because it affords us the opportunity to share experiences and ideas from our various schools, faculties, and institutes with the wider world with the aim of improving food security.”
Hon. Samuel Abdulai Jinapor, Minister for Lands and Natural Resources speaking as the Special Guest of Honour of the Conference called on all, especially large scale mining companies to realise their duty towards the local community and ensure that their operations bring optimal benefits to its stakeholders. He pledged government’s commitment to implementing appropriate regulatory, legal, fiscal, and environmental policies “to build a responsible, viable, sustainable and environmentally-sound mining industry anchored on integrity, transparency and good governance, and that brings optimum benefit to the people.”
Mrs. Cecilia Abena Dapaah, Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources, whose speech was read on her behalf at the conference by Mr. Donnan Kobla Tay, Director for Water Resources at the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources, expressed need for mining operations to be in line with the Sustainable Development Goals to ensure that future generations also benefited from the country’s mineral resources.
Mr. Yidana Zakaria, the Honourable North East Regional Minister expressed his delight about the Conference, stating, “I find the theme very apt and appropriate at this crucial time that fresh water for household consumption has become so scarce in supply relative to demand. This Conference offers a unique opportunity for intellectual discourse, which will ultimately lead to the cross-fertilization of ideas among stakeholders with the overarching aim to achieve sustainable management and efficient use of our water, forest and wildlife resources for socio-economic growth and development”.
The Upper East Regional Minister, Hon. Stephen Yakubu speaking at the Conference stated that “the conference, certainly, will provide a useful avenue for knowledge sharing; knowledge that will advance the cause of our regions/countries to remain attractive to investors and safest places to doing business”.
On the part of the Savannah Regional Minister, Hon. Saeed Muhazu Jibril, the Conference is in line with government’s agenda to promote environmentally sustainable use of natural resources for inclusive development in Ghana and beyond.
Ing. Professor Felix K. Abagale, Pro-Vice-Chancellor of UDS and Director of WACWISA said the focus of the IRAD 2022 was in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the government’s vision to ensure sustainable management and utilization of the nation’s water, lands and natural resources as well as the efficient management of the mineral resources for inclusive growth and development. He indicated that “WACWISA is at the forefront of finding sustainable solutions to, especially irrigated agriculture sector challenges. This is a task we will be able to perform with the support of stakeholders. Together with our industry WACWISA seeks to address pressing issues on water resources development aimed at addressing SDG Goal 6,12 and 15 amongst others”.
As an African Centre of Excellence for Development Impact (ACE Impact), WACWISA currently hosts 138 students from 25 African countries at the Masters and Doctor of Philosophy levels studying Irrigation and Drainage Engineering and Environmental Management and Sustainability at UDS.