Horn of Africa, irrigation technologies against the climate crisis
The consequences of global warming are hitting Central and East African countries particularly hard and are aggravating an already difficult economic situation. In order to tackle the emergency, it is essential to secure and upgrade irrigation systems, focusing on technologies adapted to local realities
The major themes of solidarity and cooperation with the Horn of Africa found space at EIMA International 2022, which opened an important window on one of the areas hardest hit by climate change. The regions of central and eastern Africa are experiencing a severe drought, induced by climate change, which has created conditions of severe food insecurity for some 16 million people, 6 million of them in Somalia. The lack of water, caused by both reduced rainfall and irregular distribution (flooding phenomena alternating with periods of extreme drought), has led to a collapse in agricultural production in the countries of the Horn of Africa, while at the same time causing the death of more than three million livestock. This was discussed in Bologna at a meeting entitled 'The Water Challenge. Accessible technologies for developing countries', promoted by the non-governmental organisation CEFA, engaged in agricultural cooperation with North-East Africa, and FederUnacoma, the Italian association of agricultural machinery manufacturers. In 2020, the average global temperature touched a record high of 15° Celsius, but, the conference speakers pointed out, the average rate of increase in African countries was much higher than that seen in other regions of the world. In Africa, the consequences of global warming are exacerbating those crisis factors - famine, migration, military conflicts, corruption and fragile local institutions - that have long undermined the development potential of many countries, and are now further weakening their ability to respond to the climate emergency. In this scenario, characterised by increasingly scarce resources, it is therefore essential to apply agronomic practices suited to the specifics of the land, but above all to exploit the available water to the last drop. That is why it is necessary to restore and improve irrigation infrastructures, which are often inadequate for local water needs, while also using irrigation systems modelled on the particular needs and characteristics of the land. With this in mind, as the speakers explained, a very effective solution for extracting water from wells is to use solar-powered pumps - which are cheaper and more sustainable for the environment - instead of traditional fossil-fuel powered models. The Italian irrigation systems industry, thanks to its extraordinary ability to customise and modulate the construction solutions offered on the market, can provide African countries with significant support both for the supply of technology and for the dissemination of operational know-how.