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More effective and sustainable investments in water for poverty reduction


Contrary to classical water investment planning processes, the approach developed by FAO in the framework of the Ag WATER Solutions Project led by IWMI, focuses on the needs of poor rural people, rather than on the development of potentially suitable resources. In so doing, the demand for investments in water drives the assessment process, and its implications in terms of resources use (water, land) is checked against available supply. The demand for investments in water varies according to the needs of the population. In order to capture this demand, the project has adopted a livelihood mapping approach. Livelihood zones divide the country into areas where rural people share relatively homogeneous living conditions that are based on a combination of biophysical and socioeconomic determinants. It describes the rural population’s main sources of livelihood (by category of people), their natural resources base, potential and key constraints to development. It analyses the relation between people and water, and assists in understanding to what extent water can be a factor in development.

This methodology is characterized by different phases to be implemented over a period between 3 and 6 months, depending on the complexity and size of the country. The approach foresees a balance between desk analytical work, field-level data collection and participatory consultations with national experts and stakeholders.

Specifically, the approach is characterized by:

  1. An inception phase to define the mapping criteria and data needed for the analysis and to build the information and knowledge base as well as to conduct the data and information collection process.
  2. A participatory mapping phase to interpret the data and information collected and start depicting livelihood zones, agricultural water management investment potential and suitability domains for agricultural water management solutions.
  3. A data and information-processing phase to consolidate and fully describe the map of livelihood zones and assess the agricultural water management investment priorities, geographical domains for agricultural water management solutions, and estimate and quantify the potential beneficiaries of possible solutions.
  4. A validation phase that is characterized by participatory validation workshops as well as data checks and comparisons using surveys, studies and field samples.

The following figure shows the framework methodology: