From 5 to 7 October 2011, Nile BDC project staff and partners convened in Bahir Dar in Ethiopia. The three-day event was hosted by ARARI – the Amhara Regional Agricultural Research Institute.
The first day was with many different stakeholders from the Amhara region – policymakers, research, civil society, and academia. The event was opened by H.E. Ayalew Gobeze, President of Amhara Regional State.
Afterwards, several sessions looked at different topics: Rainwater Management in the Blue Nile Basin: Challenges, Solutions, Evidence; Rainwater Management round table: Promising Solutions from Ethiopia; and Rainwater Management research: Testing the solutions and the evidence. The second and third ways were more internal progress review and updating discussions, including a field trip to the Fogera project site.
IWMI’s Simon Langan writes:
The first session consisted of five papers delivered by researchers working across the topics of institutions, irrigation, drivers of change, productivity strategies, and watershed management. The findings presented drew on the history of research on these topics with an emphasis on more recent work undertaken specifically for the Nile Basin Development Challenge. From my own personal prospective, the presentations provided some strong lines of evidence, for example the drivers of change were well understood at a number of scales.
In other areas, such as getting action from research, the evidence was often more difficult to find. For example it seems that whilst many farmers are knowledgeable and aware of what can be done to alleviate the situation in terms of interventions at the farm level this is not sufficient to bring about adoption of such best practice.
There is need to consider how to encourage adoption beyond individual farmer and households to the landscape scale. This requires a more systematic development of strategies combining both biophysical and socio-economic aspects that recognises the trade-offs between these elements.
Finally there was a need to consider all elements together in watershed planning which considers both bio-physical and social-economic aspects of multiple drivers and potential responses.
The second session was led by our partners, largely drawn from practitioners, and consisted of a series of rapid fire presentations. These highlighted some further areas of promising solutions as well as gaps and constraints. One issue highlighted for institutions was instability and high staff turnover rates. Another speaker suggested, based on evidence from the Sustainable Land Management Programme that a lack of skills and sometimes poor follow-through may hinder widespread adoption and sustainability of interventions.
Further lessons from other projects such as IPMS and the wider work of ARARI suggested that the use of field days and platforms from which knowledge transfer from research to practice provided good avenues for uptake.
Discussions at the end indicated that much progress is being made, but that there were still substantial gaps which largely related to getting knowledge and research transferred into action both through capacity building and improving the evidence base.