Small-scale farmers account for roughly half of the developing world's undernourished. Without proper and effective water management, poor farmers are unable to turn agriculture from a nourishment activity into an income-generating enterprise.The smallholder farming is a potential engine for economic growth, poverty reduction and food security. The project is therefore more focused on poverty reduction than agricultural production.
The project identifies Agricultural Water Management (AWM) technologies and approaches that has a proven positive impact on small-scale farmers livelihoods. The most promising solutions are analyzed in order to understand the opportunities and constraints for successful improvements at farm, community and watershed level. On regional and national level, relevant geographic areas are identified depending on the existing biophysical and socioeconomic conditions.
AWM includes technologies and practices to capture, store or drain water. To lift and transport it. Distribute it to crops in the field and other uses like livestock, fisheries and domestic use.
Which water-related interventions are the most promising options, effectively contributing to boost livelihoods in rural areas?
With the common objective to benefit smallholders (in particular women), the AWM-solutions vary in between region and main country livelihood contexts. Technology solutions, policy interventions, dissemination of successful business models, community empowerment and development or improvement of new technologies and supply chains are the most potential courses of action.
Who are the target beneficiaries of the AWM solutions?
Among the 5 countries in sub-Saharan Africa and the two states in India where projects at the moment are implemented, the focus is very diverse. In Ethiopia low-cost manual well drilling have been implemented, providing water for irrigation, livestock and domestic needs. The positive outcomes are both the access to water and the enhanced rural employment.
In Zambia 20% of smallholder farmers produce vegetables for urban markets. Soweto, Lusaka's largest fruit and vegetable market lacks legal and institutional infrastructure, presenting significant barriers and risks for small-scale farmers. This project in Zambia is therefore focused on addressing the urban market infrastructure constraints, developing legal framework and implementing information systems.
In Madhya Pradesh decentralized rainwater harvesting has been introduced in response to falling groundwater tables. To date, approximately 4,000 structures have been constructed. Some 58,000 farmers in Dewas District alone could benefit from upscaling this opportunity. Wet and dry season farming is now possible.
What are the next steps?
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) is funding the project. The project managed by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and jointly operated by IWMI, FAO, IFPRI, the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) and IDE, an NGO specialized in small scale water technologies.
The expected outcomes and outputs for the project is:
- Further understand & create effective partnerships and synergies.
- Carry out multi-stakeholder dialogue process to nurture the partnerships.
- Debate about findings and broad dissemination of distilled messages.
- Targeted uptake strategies to stimulate appropriate, post-project follow on actions.