Today in Addis Ababa the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) hosted a learning share fair on agricultural water management. It was designed to celebrate 10 years IWMI engagement in Ethiopia and East Africa and to link with World Food Day and a series of meetings of the CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems.

Approximately 100 people from Ethiopia and beyond congregated in the plenary tent on the Addis Ababa campus. First on the agenda: a retrospective on IWMI in East Africa.

IWMI retrospective

Doug Merrey, first IWMI Director for Africa explained how the East Africa office in Ethiopia grew out of discussions in early 2000, a December 2002 national workshop bringing together all agricultural water management actors in the country, and resulted in an IWMI agreement with the Ministry of Water in 2003.

Key elements in the establishment and subsequent operations of the office included a strong IWMI partnership with the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) as well as evolving partnerships with the Ministry of Water initially, then with the agriculture ministry, research organizations, NGOs, universities and other organizations.

After this brief historical retrospective, Simon Langan, Head of the IWMI East Africa office also reported on IWMI achievement in the past 10 years.

First, he identified 20 significant projects in the past 10 years as the basis on which IWMI built its achievements in the region. He particualrly highlighted:

  • The Nile Basin Development Challenge – a strong partnership with national partners to address land and water issues at a landscape scale;
  • IMAWESA – an IFAD-funded water management best practice network across east Africa
  • Agwater management solutions – a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation-funded project that assessed different interventions and their uptake
  • LIVES – a new Canada-supported program with ILRI with a systems focus on the crop-livestock-irrigation interface

Second, he highlights the publications – reports, papers and books – produced by the office as a contribution to the evidence base for agricultural water management practice and decision making. The tally includes 8 books, 83 journal articles, 104 proceedings and many policy briefs, investment briefs and research reports.

Third, he pointed out some capacity building dimensions of the work of the office: More than 80 MSc students, 11 PhD students, several interns and 6 postdoctoral fellows supported through various projects.

Fourth, he highlighted the importance of partnerships – across CGIAR centres, with the Ministry of Agriculture, the Nile Basin Inititiative, the  Global Water Initiative and with universities.

All in all – “A lot to be proud of and to build upon.” He emphasized that the share fair is designed  to be an opportunity to strengthen these partnerships , to share, and to learn …

Communal river of learning

Following the brief summary of IWMI achievements in the region, participants were asked to contribute their institutional and personal achievements along a timeline. Some of the achievements posted were:

  • Livestock-water productivity concept
  • Active network of agricultural water management partners
  • Participatory communication and role-playing
  • Empirical evidence of agricultural water management impacts on poverty
  • Water evaluation and planning tool
  • Community based participatory watershed planning guidelines
  • Review of policy institutions on land and water
  • Tools for improving irrigation performance
  • Substantial evolution of Ethiopian sustainable land management policies
  • Developed PhD program in civil and water resources engineering
  • Multidisciplinary assessment on water productivity
  • Development agents training and experience sharing on land-water linkages
  • Launch of regional charter on investment in water for agriculture
  • Stakeholders engaged in participatory natural resource management planning and implementation in 3 NBDC watersheds
  • Concepts and principles of innovation platforms have been applied in practical rainwater management efforts
  • Established Ethiopian Institute of Water Resources at Addis Ababa University

Share fair actors

Who attended the meeting? the list includes RIPPLE, ILRI, CRS, Care east Africa, OXFAM America, HUNDEE (Oromo Grassroots Development Institute), Ethiopian Institute of Water Resources, Ministry of Water Development, IFAD, CPWF, IFPRI, MetaMeta, ICRISAT, SEI, Global Water Initiative, Ministry of Agriculture, ENTRO, FAO, ODI …

The share fair was designed and facilitated by Ms. Nadia Manning-Thomas for IWMI