In October, a companion project to the Nile Basin Development Challenge began. Entitled ‘enhancing communities’ adaptive capacity to climate change in drought-prone hotspots of the Blue Nile basin, Ethiopia’, the project is funded by the United Nations Environment Program.

The project will develop a learning site to help enhance the adaptive capacities of local communities to climate-change induced water scarcity. It will also provide evidence to governments to consider climate change and ecosystems in land use planning and natural resource management.

On 24 and 25 November, the project was launched with a stakeholder experience-sharing workshop at Wollo University.

After formal welcomes and technical presentations by Tilahun Amede (ILRI/IWMI) and Polly Ericksen (ILRI), the first day focused on sharing experience in integrated watershed management and collective action from within the region. It was also about identifying key interventions and lessons that could be integrated in planning and implementation of emerging watershed and climate-related projects in the region. The second day introduced the project to the partners, integrated their ideas into the planning and design and explored broader partnership.

Major challenges emerging from the presentations of five watersheds included:

  •   Negotiations and convincing the farmers could be time taking and sometimes painful;
  •   Some Initiative died after the completions of projects; question of sustainability, ownerships
  •   Poor exit strategy by donor supported projects;
  •   Duplication of management and institutions (Watershed development committee vs. Gov’t Committee)
  •   The conflict between social planning unit of the gov’t vs. Watershed planning unit
  •   Lack of landscape scale planning; delineation commonly based on project objectives and available budgets


On the final day, participants agreed to:

  1. Organize community meetings and local consultation at watershed scales for initiating the project
  2. Use the watershed as a joint learning site between Wollo University, ARARI, ILRI and UNEP
  3. The local administration has taken the responsibility to facilitate the implementation of the project
  4. ARARI has agreed to consider the watershed as a satellite research site in the watershed through its SIRINKA research centre
  5. There is also understanding to send MSC and PhD students from various disciplines to work on integrated approaches

For more information, contact Dr. Tilahun Amede at ILRI.