Digital storytelling refers to short films composed of digitized still and moving images, sound and text. This is a highly effective way of presenting compelling stories in an engaging format. Digital stories can be created by people everywhere, on any subject and shared electronically.

In November 2012 ILRI research staff attended a digital story workshop run by UK-based trainers Tracy Pallant and Katrina Kirkwood. The training was organized by Beth Cullen, Kindu Mekonnen and Alan Duncan as part of a joint project between UNEP, ILRI and Wollo University titled “Enhancing communities’ adaptive capacity to climate-change induced water scarcity in drought-prone hotspots of the Blue Nile basin, Ethiopia” working in the Kabe watershed, south Wollo.

The training was attended by UNEP project members Kindu Mekonnen and Derbew Kefyalew. They were joined by Aberra Adie, Zelalem Lemma and Gerba Leta, involved in the Nile Basin Development Challenge (NBDC) project, and Zerihun Sewunet, a member of the ILRI Knowledge Management and Information Services (KMIS) team.

The training focused on identifying suitable stories, interview techniques, audio recording, basic photography skills, audio and visual editing and web-based publication. Participants used digital material collected from the Kabe watershed to document lessons and experiences from the project and spent a day in Jeldu collecting stories from farmers involved with the NBDC innovation platform work.

ILRI staff who received the training will now be able to use digital storytelling techniques to document and communicate research processes as well as outcomes. It is hoped that the use of digital stories will enable ILRI to communicate research work to a range of audiences in an accessible and creative format.

ILRI researchers are also experimenting with the use of digital stories for participatory monitoring and evaluation. Led by Beth Cullen, a post-doctoral scientist specializing in participatory research methods, cameras have been handed out to community members and development agents in three NBDC sites: Diga, Jeldu and Fogera. The aim is to use participatory photography to monitor the progress of pilot interventions planned by local level innovation platforms. ILRI research staff will work with innovation platform members to create digital stories using their photographs and interviews to capture experiences and lessons learned. These stories will be used to share knowledge between the three sites, between local and national actors and between farmers and researchers.

Some example stories produced during the training can be seen here:

Farmers use Desho grass to feed livestock in the Ethiopian dry season:

Growing Desho grass to feed livestock in the Ethiopian Highlands:

See more of these films from ILRI

Community members from Gebugesa village using grazing land for social gathering

As part of the Nile Basin Development Challenge, local Innovation Platforms (IP) have been formed in three sites in the Blue Nile Basin of Ethiopia to improve approaches to rain water management. It is hoped that local level platforms will enable actors to exchange knowledge, promote innovation capacity and participate in joint action. To date, platform members have worked together, facilitated by ILRI/IWMI researchers, to identify common rainwater management (RWM) issues and to design pilot interventions to address these issues. Care has been taken to ensure that the selected issues represent community concerns as well as the challenges prioritized by decision makers.

Emerging from the discussions, soil erosion was identified as a major problem in Jeldu and Diga, while unrestricted livestock grazing was ranked as a priority in Fogera. A combination of backyard forage development and improved management of communal grazing lands were identified as strategies to address problems of feed shortage and soil degradation in all three sites. Action research sites were then established to pilot these interventions and generate greater understanding of the challenges faced by both farmers and decision makers during the planning and implementation of such interventions.

In August 2012, members of the Fogera Innovation Platform began working with community members in Gebugesa village within the Mizwa river catchment area. Gebugesa village has 21 households which depend on a nearby communal grazing area to meet their fodder needs. IP members decided to target this area with interventions to improve pasture quality and quantity in an attempt to encourage community members to decrease the practice of unrestricted grazing.

A 3.5 hectare area was designated for enclosure and improved fodder plants were introduced. IP members designated a technical group to be responsible for site selection, community engagement and awareness creation and the acquisition of fodder plants.

Shortly after activities began it was reported that farmers had uprooted the fodder plants they themselves had planted. Members of the technical group reported the problem to researchers from ILRI/IWMI who then visited the site in order to facilitate a consultation process with farmers and IP members. The subsequent discussions generated valuable lessons.

Community members from Gebugesa village acknowledged problems with severe feed shortages. Although there are diverse animal feed sources available in the area, namely crop residues, grazing land and woodland, amounts are not sufficient to meet local demand. Although this is a recognized problem, community members were resistant to enclosing communal grazing land for a variety of reasons, none of which were considered by the platform members when designing the interventions. The designated grazing area is an open space accessible by the households living around it. This space is used for a variety of community gatherings, including weddings and funerals, and as such plays an important role in bringing people together and in the maintenance of key social networks.

The grazing area is also used in a variety of ways by different community members. Communal grazing areas are particularly important for households without livestock who rely on these areas for dung collection. Due to the lack of alternative fuel sources, dung makes a vital contribution to local livelihoods. Enclosing grazing areas and keeping livestock at home denies vulnerable members of the community access to this resource. Women also expressed concerns about the impact that these changes could have on their children’s safety. In rural areas of Ethiopia it is often the responsibility of children to look after livestock. Women felt that their children would be safer managing livestock on nearby grazing lands as it is easy for them to follow their movements whilst they are engaged in other farm activities. Many women from the community were therefore reluctant to engage with the proposed interventions.

Community members from Limbichoch village discuss enclosure of grazing land with ILRI researcher

Lack of understanding about the multiple functions that these communal areas serve ultimately undermined the efforts made by the platform members. This serves to highlight a fundamental disconnect between the perspectives of community members and decision makers who are often removed from the day-to-day realities of rural life, and emphasizes the need for greater community participation in the design and implementation of such interventions.

It should also be highlighted that the grazing enclosure and associated fodder development interventions initiated by the innovation platform had never been attempted in this particular area. Due to the precarious nature of many subsistence farmer livelihoods and the subsequent focus on food security, farmers are often suspicious about new technologies or innovations unless they see concrete evidence of their impact. This is understandable as any change to tried-and-tested traditional practices and land management strategies entails a degree of risk for farmers.

With this in mind, platform members planned to engage farmers in experience sharing visits to areas where alternative management of grazing areas have successfully been introduced. However, due to a number of constraints this was not achieved and as a result farmers lost confidence in the initiative. A number of farmers also expressed a fear that the platform interventions were part of a hidden agenda to take land for a government afforestation program.

Although the pilot interventions initiated in Gebugesa village were largely unsuccessful the lessons generated have been invaluable for those involved. NBDC researchers working with the platform members were aware of the differences in perspectives between farmers and local experts and administrators. Apprehension about the lack of community voice in the Fogera platform led to a period of community engagement involving the use of participatory video. Videos made by community members expressing some of the issues highlighted above were screened to members of the innovation platform but did not seem to inform the design of the pilot interventions. This is in many ways unsurprising since certain attitudes and ways of interacting are so firmly entrenched that alternatives cannot simply be told but must be experienced by the actors concerned in order for meaningful change to take place.

Backyard fodder development with farmers in Limbichoch village

Following the problems with the Gebugesa intervention site, NBDC researchers have worked with members of the innovation platform to review their efforts and synthesize the lessons learned. After discussions with Gebugesa community members the decision was taken to establish a second site in a neighbouring area.

Although this was in many ways disappointing it was essential that the wishes of community members were respected. Work began in July to establish a second site in Limbichoch village. This time there was a more concerted effort to involve the community in selecting the intervention area. Since then a 3.75 hectare area has been enclosed and selected community members have begun backyard fodder development, initial reactions have been positive.

NBDC researchers and IP members are working hard to ensure that bylaws are drafted with community members in the second site to encourage a sense of ownership and to ensure that the interventions take into account community concerns and meet the needs of different social groups.

Farmers and IP members planting improved forage on grazing land in Limbichoch village

Work is also being done to share lessons between farmers in the two sites. This will be important for the success of these interventions at a larger scale.

Participating farmers are also being given training on how to maintain the enclosed area, how to integrate improved forage plants, and techniques for collectively managing and utilizing the fodder produced.

It is hoped that this training will be incorporated with farmers’ traditional knowledge and practices, leading to strengthened capacity, improved livestock productivity and in the long term better land and water management.

Farmers from Fogera telling their stories using participatory videoThe Nile Basin Development Challenge (NBDC), funded by the CGIAR Challenge Program for Water and Food (CPWF), is currently working with innovation platforms to improve the resilience of rural livelihoods in the Ethiopian highlands through a landscape approach to rainwater management (RWM).

Rainwater management interventions in Ethiopia have historically been implemented in a top-down fashion and this has led to several challenges to effective implementation, often revolving around issues of participation.

In this basin, we have established three platforms, Diga and Jeldu in Oromiya region and Fogera in Amhara region. The aim of the platforms is to bring a range of stakeholders together to identify technical and institutional challenges around RWM, enhance communication, coordination and knowledge sharing and develop joint action to bring about change.

Stakeholders include local government administration, members of the bureau of agriculture, national research institutes, a local NGO and community leaders. However, more needs to be done to ensure that community views are adequately represented.

In 2011, CPWF awarded a grant through its Innovation Fund to investigate and document the effectiveness of participatory video (PV) as a tool to bring local issues to the attention of planners and implementers of rainwater management interventions in Ethiopia.

The resulting participatory video made by community members from three kebeles in Fogera woreda was recently shown to members of the Fogera Innovation Platform (IP). The video, titled ‘A Rope to Tie a Lion’, captures community views on land and water management and focused on three issues: unrestricted grazing, water stress and government-led soil and water conservation work. See here for more information about the PV process we followed.

The film received a positive response from members of the innovation platform who seemed to gain some insight into community perspectives.

A national researcher stated ‘We have a lot to learn from community members. I have now come to realize that the farming community is capable of identifying problems and indicating solutions’.

A member of the woreda administration said ‘Today I have come to realize that farmers can play a role in solving their problems by participating actively. It is advisable to keep involving farmers in discussions, they should participate in all stages, from planning and preparation to implementation’.

Many of the IP members expressed surprise at farmers’ ability to handle video technology. One stakeholder said ‘I never imagined that they had the capacity to acquaint themselves with technology so fast. I am amazed to see farmers handle the cameras with such competence’. However, the novelty of seeing a video produced by farmers may have overshadowed the messages being expressed. The extent to which IP members really listened to the content is uncertain, but it has been a useful first step towards increasing community voice within the platform. Members of the Fogera NBDC Innovation Platform watch a participatory video made by community members

In discussions following the screening, IP members decided to pilot area enclosures and back-yard fodder development to address the issue of ‘unrestricted grazing’. Restricting the movement of livestock was prioritized because livestock are considered to contribute to land degradation and impact negatively on the soil and water conservation measures currently being implemented by the government. However, if restricting grazing is to be feasible, alternative sources of fodder must be provided.

A specific micro-watershed was selected by the platform with the aim of enclosing part of a communal grazing area to grow fodder that can be cut and carried to surrounding homesteads. Sufficient amounts of fodder cannot be produced from the selected area alone, therefore farmers will be provided with additional fodder plants which they can plant at their homesteads. The hope is that these interventions will enable farmers to gradually move towards keeping their livestock at home rather than allowing them to graze freely and so contribute to better land and water management. IP members also believe that better feeding and livestock management strategies will improve the livelihoods of community members.

However, as the video demonstrates, restricting grazing is a controversial issue that will be hard to tackle due to differences in perspectives between farmers and decision makers. Community members have expressed a number of concerns. For example, those without livestock will no longer be able to collect dung for fuel from communal grazing areas; if cattle are no longer gathered in communal areas, breeding will be difficult; keeping livestock at home without sufficient fodder will require additional time and labour to search for feed; and those with less land worry they will be unable to provide for their livestock’s fodder needs.

These are valid concerns which will need to be considered if the interventions are to be successful. During the PV exercise local development agents were informally consulted in order to gauge why they think community members are reluctant to limit livestock movements. Many seemed bewildered and cited farmer ‘lack of awareness’ as a reason, but did not convey any of the reasons captured during the PV process. It is not certain what attempts, if any, have been made by development agents to understand these issues from the farmers’ point of view.

Even though the PV process has enabled community members to voice their views to the platform, this does not guarantee that these views, and the diverse livelihood strategies and needs of community members, will be taken into account when developing and implementing the proposed interventions. Community members in the selected intervention area were not involved in the participatory video work so have not yet been sufficiently engaged and may not be aware of the innovation platform aims and activities. The platform members themselves will be responsible for working with them and although many talk convincingly about the need to include community members it is apparent that there is considerable variation in interpretations of what ‘participation’ means in reality.

While tools such as PV can help to establish lines of communication between farmers and decision makers and prompt a degree of reflection, which is particularly important in areas where farmers are often perceived as ‘backwards’ by higher level actors, this is not enough. There still needs to be attitudinal change on the part of higher level actors and a willingness to listen to farmers’ views; broader changes in the culture of decision making among higher level stakeholders, particularly more flexibility in the planning and implementation of policy at local level; and an openness by community members to engage, although this requires trust to be established. None of this is easy to accomplish.

In this particular situation, continuous engagement is required to build on the PV work and achieve more meaningful change. The video will be screened to the targeted community members to try and build trust and understanding of the innovation platform process. The next steps will bridge gaps between IP members and community members through practical engagement. This will include providing training and capacity building to platform members to further foster participatory approaches and encourage reflection on both the process and outcomes so far in order to consolidate learning.

Watch the community’s video here:

ILRI’s Beth Cullen was recently interviewed by the USAID Feed the Future Agrilinks web site about innovation platforms and participatory video.

Read the interview

Watch the video:

Local innovation platforms are used in several CGIAR  Challenge Program for Water and Food-supported Basin Development Challenges – the Mekong, Volta and Nile as mechanisms to help bring about technological and institutional innovation in a more effective and participatory manner.

On 15 June, ILRI’s Beth Cullen, working on the Integrating technologies, policies and institutions project updated team members and other partners on progress so far with the local innovation platforms in the NBDC.

Watch/Listen to her presentation:

 

In her presentation, Beth covered several questions: Do these platforms bring much return against the time invested in them? How to facilitate them locally? How to ensure local and national platforms reinforce each other? How to balance the importance of a rich learning process with the necessity to demonstrate outcomes?

Among the challenges faced by the team:

  • The local facilitation needs to be done well; is very time-consuming (especially as we are researchers who don’t usually have the needed skills).
  • ‘We’ have been driving the agenda’s, our timescales, etc. How to match this with others’ agendas. Tension between moving at stakeholder pace versus ‘our’ timetables and the need to ‘see’ results.
  • How do we incorporate existing knowledge from other (external) actors into local platforms?
  • How do we meet all the expectations – local as well as in our own research teams – with limited resources?
  • It is clear that process is as important as outcomes! But developing a good process doesn’t necessarily ensure impact…”

The presentation generated lively discussion … focusing on the different potential uses of platforms and the the danger that ‘platforming’ gets in the way of action. Some people wondered if there is a an effective alternative to all the meetings and processes involved … is it enough to just have someone who brings people together and brokers  joint actions? The two key results/actions we need are:  creating or catalyzing the linkages among people and ‘getting to action’ in which the people organize themselves.

In the end, nobody questioned the underlying value of such platforms, but the challenge remains how to make them truly useful in terms of their ultimate ‘end game’ – to deliver solutions that communities can benefit from.

In Ethiopia, these local platforms are complemented by a national land and water platform that, among other things, helps ensure effective links with policy-makers and financial partners. This platform already met in April and in December 2011 – a next meeting is planned in July 2012. These innovation platforms were also discussed in a dedicated session at the recent International Forum on Water and Food.

Various national and regional organizations in Ethiopia are engaged in natural resource management, particularly in land and water, but for the last 30 years there has been limited opportunity for them to share experiences, identify gaps and feed key insights to one another and crucially to policy-makers.

Earlier this year, the Nile Basin Development Challenge (Nile BDC) initiated a National Platform on Land and Water Management along with key national players. There was a widespread agreement that a well negotiated national platform can be a relevant mechanism to minimize duplication of efforts and enhance communication between actors and across sectors for improved land and water management in Ethiopia.

On 19 December 2011, the second national Platform meeting on Land and Water Management was held at the  Addis Ababa campus of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). About 30 participants representing governmental organizations and ministries, non-governmental organizations and development associations, universities and research organizations came together to talk about the objectives, functions and structure of the national platform, and to identify priority areas and approaches to address them. Download the report of the meeting.

While National Platform meetings are expected to take place twice a year, the idea is to have thematic working groups develop an action plan around priority areas with several activities throughout the year that will feed back to the national platform meetings. These meetings are also meant to invite other organizations and networks to introduce various initiatives of relevance to each group. After an introductory presentation on the platform itself, the MERET program and RiPPLE presented their experiences linking local practices with national planning.

The Management of Environmental Resources to Enable Transition to better livelihoods (MERET) program has a long history in Ethiopia and has evolved from the Food for Work (FFW) program in the 1980s to a Community-Based Participatory Watershed Management Approach (CBPWSM) in the 1990s, eventually morphing into MERET in 2003.

Key to its success were effective technologies/structures, community empowerment for decision-making, appropriate technologies, demonstration of new technologies (“seeing is believing“), regular technical backstopping and close supervision, strict adoption of integrated watershed management approach and linkages, synergy-focused partnerships among stakeholders. View the MERET presentation:

The program also faces various challenges such as resource limitations for scaling up and out, lack of cash for promoting income-generating activities, absence of impact studies and documentation of best practices, limited exposure to innovative technologies from elsewhere, institutional instability and frequent staff turnover.

RiPPLE presented its experiences and lessons working through multi-stakeholder processes in the field of water and sanitation, integrated water resource management and climate change. RiPPLE works through so called ‘learning and practice alliances’ (LPAs), which are interconnected platforms of stakeholders working together to learn, innovate and scale up. LPAs are organized as linked platforms operating from woreda level all the way to national and international level. The main focus is on action research, information and documentation, capacity building and training, and linking policy and practice. View the RIPPLE presentation:

The factors influencing the sustainability and success of RiPPLE include: working closely with interested partners who directly benefit from the alliance, institutionalization of activities and approach in governmental organizations, working on key challenges by building on existing initiatives and using experienced process facilitators, ensuring linkages to implementation projects, organizing regular training courses for Training and Vocational Education Centers and other parties. The whole RiPPLE approach has been followed with an eye for ensuring institutional and individual commitment through shared ownership.

Inspired by the presentations and suggestions made by the steering group of the national platform, five thematic working groups were formed to develop further action:

  1. Community empowerment, institutions and sustainability
  2. Technological innovation
  3. Land and water management
  4. Linking research, policy and practice
  5. Resilient ecosystems
National platform group work (photo credit: ILRI/Ewen Le Borgne)

National platform group work in action (photo credit: ILRI/Ewen Le Borgne)

The participants developed action plans for each of these groups and identified champions to lead small working groups around each theme from January 2012 onwards.

The working groups are expected to identity key issues and challenges, document ongoing experiences and disseminate information that is already available, identify research gaps etc.

In addition to a common agenda across the groups, each group may have it own priorities and activities. The Nile BDC will initially support the platform through providing facilities and infrastructure, but over time additional sources will have to be mobilized, hence the importance of building upon existing initiatives.

Since the platform intends to become the nationwide forum for information exchange, learning and innovation on land and water management, by linking local experiences to national planning, it is of great importance that organizations and institutes working on land and water management in Ethiopia actively participate and contribute to the working groups and the national platform.

To play an active role in role in one of the working groups or to keep informed about the national platform, please contact Tsedey Ayalew (t.ayalew AT cgiar.org) or Kees Swaans (k.swaans AT cgiar.org).

Read the report of this second national platform meeting.

By Kees Swaans and Tilahun Amede

One of the ‘learning to innovate’ sessions in the 2011 Third International Forum on Water and Food looked at experiences within the CPWF with multi-stakeholder Platforms (MSP) and Innovation Platforms (IP).

The session started with a brief introduction, and then three presentations from Alan Duncan (ILRI/Nile – his presentation; a poster on innovation platforms), Andre van Rooyen (ICRISAT/Limpopo – his presentation) and Kim Geheb (Mekong – his presentation), each focusing on different ideas and experiences.

A ‘bus stop’ exercise followed, with a different but short presentation at each stop (see this video interview – in French – with Hubert Some from SNV).

Participants then formed into four groups to further discuss specific questions.

  1. How do we scale out such platform processes? Key notions include: replication; snowballing; relationships among the various stakeholders; step back to allow the process to move forward;  financial resources; the specific contexts; and skilled process facilitators …
  2. What are the most significant lessons and messages in this area for ‘research for development’? each process needs a vision, a dream; these processes  are complex and time-consuming to operationalize; we should not underestimate the role of networks; should informality receive institutional support?; multi-way communication is essential …
  3. What is new and innovative in the experiences shared? It explicitly concerned about benefits of specific groups of stakeholders; it is used to facilitate research through continuous dialogue; researchers are taking on broker roles; change results from processes that motivate multiple actors and networks;  innovations result from consolidating diverse actors …
  4. What are the research questions on platforms that could be addressed across CPWF Basins? How to monitor and track behavioural and institutional change; how can knowledge data and information be incorporated into how platforms do things, building up institutional learning over time; The need to compare different platform approaches and the outcomes they produce; How do local ownership processes develop in different contexts; Are there factors that constrain or prevent the success of such platforms, and how do we share these …

Watch the discussion group video reports:

Kim Meheb from the Mekong Basin rounded off the session by synthesizing the main ideas and lessons emerging. These include: There’s no ‘blueprint’ for doing multi-stakeholder platforms; one of the strengths of these approaches is they way they allow for things to change along a MSP process; we need to design processes to allow people to join along the way – a ‘snowballing’ effect; two-way dialogues between what research uncovers and what policymakers or local communities demand are important parts of what we want to achieve; the importance of the ‘capacity to listen’ is something that we need to pay much more attention to; we increase the potential for change ‘exponentially’ once trust enters the equation; and that ‘muddling through’ and opportunism are important aspects of ‘adaptive management’ … however, our organizations are often not good at grasping these opportunities – our structures and compliance mechanisms often inhibit this.

Read related blog posts:

ILRI’s Alan Duncan was asked to share a Nile Basin Development Challenge (NBDC) ‘story’ at the recent International Forum on Water and Food.

Watch the video:

Alan’s story introduces some of the challenges that the Ethiopian Government faces in seeking to improve natural resources management at the local level, in the Blue Nile Basin. He reports that the sectors need to be better connected (water, agriculture, livestock); and more dialogue between officials and communities towards more participatory approaches to rainwater management.

One approach the NBDC is trying, is to support local ‘innovation platforms‘ – spaces for diverse actors to come together to engage in dialogue, and to jointly identify and address issues. The idea is that these will catalyze greater local participation and ownership of interventions, connect with national initiatives, and help make Ethiopian landscapes more productive.

He concludes stating that Ethiopia is known as the ‘water tower’ of Africa … with strong community participation and ownership, it could also be Africa’s breadbasket!

Change is not linear. Change is not easy. Changing the way research is carried out for more impact is certainly no exception.  In session of the Third International Forum for Water and Food, dedicated to innovation platforms, the tone was set: if we want to achieve impact, we have to change dramatically and it will not be a smooth learning curve.

Read the full blog post by Ewen Le Borgne …

View a poster on local innovation platforms in the Nile BDC:

An innovation platform is a network of different stakeholders who come together to exchange knowledge and develop joint action to bring about change in livelihoods and natural resource management. The growing interest in innovation platforms recognizes that improvements to farmer livelihoods and environmental integrity depend not just on on-farm technologies but on wider institutions, markets and policies. Improved land and water management practices can often be more readily and sustainably achieved by addressing these wider issues than by a narrow focus on changing farmer behaviour, but addressing them requires the involvement of a wide variety of stakeholders from communities, government, NGOs, research and private sector. Although this approach may require more patience the results are likely to be more sustained and far-reaching.

The types of issues that can be dealt with in an innovation platform can include:

Developing market chains: bringing together different actors along the value chain including producers, input suppliers, traders and regulatory bodies can help to identify and address bottlenecks along the value chain. Addressing these bottlenecks can directly benefit producers and increase incentives for farmers to invest in more market-oriented production for improved livelihoods.

Natural resource management enhancement: land and water issues tend to have a strong landscape dimension. The practices of upstream users can have important effects on downstream users. Also, small-scale irrigation schemes and soil and water conservation structures often affect multiple users and require collective action. Innovation platforms can provide a useful way of dealing with these landscape-level issues.


Combining talk with action

Innovation platforms are more than just places to talk. They need to lead to changes in farmer practice if they are to be effective. For example, as part of the IFAD-Fodder Adoption Project an innovation platform in Ada’a focusing on livestock feed issues catalyzed increased use of improved fodder varieties but also led to sourcing of improved dairy breeds and enhanced milk marketing arrangements (see fodderadoption.wordpress.com).

How could innovation platforms be useful in the NBDC programme?

The NBDC programme proposes to catalyse formation of local innovation platforms in our three study sites of Diga, Fogera and Jeldu. We would see these meeting 3 or 4 times a year or as needed. They will bring together actors at woreda level such as various government line departments (including those responsible for agriculture and water), NGO’s, private sector actors, researchers, community representatives and others. The platforms could also include actors from outside the woreda as the agenda broadens.

The aim will be to jointly identify constraints to improving land and water management at each site and then plan some practical joint actions to deal with them. The platforms would also provide a mechanism to seek resources to implement practical interventions identified within the platforms. As the platforms develop we could also link them to a national platform to provide a communication route to national actors. We seek local collaboration and co-development of these innovation platforms. We see the role of NBDC as catalysing initial formation of innovation platforms and then learning lessons about what makes them work.

By Alan Duncan

Download this as a brochure (also in Amharic, in Oromifa)