Fantahun Mengistu-NileBDC stakeholder workshop

Fantahun Mengistu, Director of ARARI

In October 2011, project partners and team members in the Nile Basin Development Challenge  met in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia to reflect on project progress and directions.

We asked Fantahun Mengistu, Director of the Amhara Regional Agricultural Research Institute (ARARI) to share some of the key points and take home messages from the meeting.

In the interview below, he notes that, although Ethiopia has a good national policy framework in place, there are some gaps in implementation at grassroots level: including proper integration between water and agriculture, more emphasis is given to blue than to green water, and fully understanding the farmers and the farmer circumstances – “we need to know very well the farmer.”

Sustainability is a key issue, it needs increased participation of communities, more emphasis on showing short term benefits to farmers, increased attention to integrated hydrological planning at basin and landscape level – we need to ensure that people getting upstream benefits does not mean that people downstream will suffer.

Watch the interview:

See photos from the workshop here.

The River Nile Water is the lifeblood for 180 million people who live in the river basin. Nile water supports hydropower, agriculture, navigation, and a multitude of ecosystem services all essential for economic growth, poverty reduction, and stability in the region.

The region has the potential for rapid growth, and many individuals, communities, companies, and countries have high hopes that the Nile waters can support growth and prosperity. While the future expectation of what the Nile can deliver to its people is extremely high, in fact the resource is limited, and there is a real danger that ill-planned development can lead to degradation and conflict.

This book by Assefa M. Melesse covers a range of biophysical issues important for the Nile basin: water budgets of the major lakes, satellite rainfall data, climate variability, tradeoffs in water use and productivity, and water scarcity.

Two of the chapters are contributed by scientists working in the Nile BDC:

Livestock-water productivity in the Nile Basin: Solutions for emerging challenges by Tilahun Amede and colleagues provides a framework to improve returns from water investments through: (i) provision of sufficient watering points for livestock across the basin; (ii) improving water productivity through promoting water-saving technologies, ensuring system integration and control of transboundary flux of livestock diseases; and (iii) formulating participatory basin scale regulatory frameworks on water use and sharing. It also argues that improving water productivity through integrated technological, policy and institutional interventions offers an opportunity for smallholders in both upstream and downstream countries to adapt to climate and market risks.

Hydrological water availability, trends and Allocation in the Blue Nile Basin by Matthew McCartney and colleagues provides an overview of the basin characteristics, hydrology and hydrological variability of the Blue Nile, as well as a brief evaluation of the current and future status of water resource development and implications for water availability.

Between 7 and 13 May, 2011, the Project ‘4’ of the Nile Basin Development Challenge (NBDC) will organise a week-long workshop on modeling in the Program. The aim is to bring together the project modeling teams to discuss emerging issues and work together on current technical challenges and cross-cutting issues.

Particular issues include scales of model applications; linking productivity and economies; linking productivity and hydrology; populating the ECOSAUT model with scarce data; and specific model technicalities such as how to incorporate RMS and how to couple SWAT and WEAP.

The workshop starts with a one day field trip to Jeldu on Saturday 7th May.

The first Partner’s Technical Workshop on the Mapping, Targeting and Scaling out of rainwater interventions in the Ethiopian Highlands project was held March 28-29 2011 on the ILRI Campus in Addis Ababa.

With participants from national partners, the meeting promoted discussion and exchanges on rainwater management related experiences amongst partners. It also provided an opportunity for preliminary identification of agricultural practices relevant for improved targeting of interventions.

During the workshop, discussion was driven by concrete objectives of moving towards a common understanding of rainwater management strategies, in addition to identifying and categorizing currently implemented and potentially effective agricultural practices.

The information gathered throughout the workshop will help define and support a structure to prioritize practices in the Ethiopian Highlands with regards to environmental settings and adoption factors.

Moreover, the discussion contributed to generate a conceptual outline of the spatially explicit decision support tools along with project output products ensuring capacity building beyond the project duration and scope.

Download the meeting report

Last week, Dr. Tilahun Amede, leader of the Nile Basin Development Challenge (NBDC) spoke at the opening of the international conference on ‘Ecosystem Conservation and Sustainable Development’, held in Ambo, Ethiopia, 10-12 February 2011.

The meeting explored ways to minimize the negative impacts of human involvement on forest, land and water resources, provide long term solutions to sustaining natural resources and create economic incentives to sustain rural livelihoods.

The conference had five special symposia during the course of the three days:

  • Climate change, Biodiversity and natural Resources management
  • Rainwater management for food security and environmental groups (organized by the NBDC with 16 presentations)
  • Aquaculture and fisheries for sustainable development
  • Ecosystem health and waster management
  • Animal alternatives and sustainable development

The next conference of ECOCASD will be organized in Bangalore, India in 2012.

View the text of the opening speech by Dr. Amede

View his presentation: