Agricultural Water Management (AWM)
The AgWater Solutions Project to improve the livelihoods of poor and marginalized smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia through agricultural water management (AWM) solutions, assessing where and how agricultural water management (AWM) can improve rural livelihoods and reduce poverty. Work focussed on five African countries (Ghana, Burkina Faso, Zambia, Tanzania and Ethiopia) and two states in India (West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh).
In each country the AgWater Solutions Project has followed a consistent methodology: initial research to understand the status of AWM (situation analysis) followed by a national consultation to discuss findings and distil priorities for field-level research and piloting. In parallel, FAO and IFPRI have been mapping the potential for AWM to contribute to poverty alleviation at national and sub continental levels. A series of workshops (the AWM Dialogueled by FAO with National Dialogue Facilitators) were held at national and sub national levels, to ground truth research findings and identify gaps and priorities for influencing AWM through policy, and links with private sector and farmer groups. The project (2010-2012) findings are packaged into investment recommendations for target stakeholder groups.
AWM Dialogue process
This dialogue aimed to consult, discuss and validate possible AWM solution options and to suggest priorities for investment at the national level on the basis of scientific references and a good understanding of local knowledge, actors’ needs and preferences. Discussions in the events aimed to understand the causes of adoption or abandonment of some of the AWM interventions, and enlarge the range of the “possibles”. They should help us find practical means to forge links between water, poverty and livelihoods in rural areas, in particular, by showing how access to agricultural water determines livelihoods and survival in rural areas.
In Madhya Pradesh, the main constraints identified by the AgWater Solutions Situation Analysis in 2009 wereoveruse of groundwater and electricity power cuts, which affect farmers using electric pumps. Any AWM solution would have to reduce dependence on groundwater and not rely on electricity. As such, to increase water availability the project looked into means of supporting the proliferation of decentralized rainwater harvesting (on-farm ponds, also called ex-situ water harvesting) and field bunding to increase waterretention in the soil (in-situ rainwater harvesting). To increase water access the project analyzed on how to facilitate low-cost water lifting options (e.g., pump rental) and drip irrigation to improve water utilization. Financial support measures to implement these AWM improvements were also explored to facilitate private investment and improve targeting of existing government subsidies.
AWM options identified during the State Consultation
The State AWM Consultation discussed the situational analysis and identified a number of areas in which research would be beneficial. The AgWater Solutions project selected some of these for further analysis. IWMI and partners are also exploring options for: (i) accelerating adoption of low-cost drip systems (ii) low-cost water pumping services, and (iii) financing for all of the above AWM solutions.
To discuss these research findings and inform the AWM mapping work, a series of meetings were arranged during 2010-12; this brief summarizes this process and its findings.
Through AWM Solutions materials, CARD has shared information with Panchayats. Awareness-raising activities to encourage farmers to construct field bunds or farm ponds at the local level started in May 2011 and are still going on. Regular village-level meetings were organized in villages in Ujjain (50), Dhar (30), Mahu (10) and Mandla (50) and field visits of selected farmers were also organized to Dewas’ Rewa Sagars; farmers from Mandla, Ujjain, Dhar and Mahu locations. Two detailed manuals on agriculture water management were prepared for Malwa and Mahakaushal regions, which also include farmer field school manuals on irrigation. A documentary (a film in Hindi language) has also been prepared locally on AWM for dissemination in the state. A documentary about field bunding and farm ponds was also shared with large gathering of farmers (Sammelan) in Dewas, Ujjain, Dhar, Mandla and Dindori; these meetings could reach up to 500,000 farmers in each district.