NBDC scientists Kindie Getnet and Geremew Kefyalew recently published a research article in the Environment and Development Economics journal to further assess the development impact of rainwater management innovations through the use of a Rainwater-livelihoods-poverty index (RLPI).

The article relates to research ongoing in Diga, one of the three NBDC action sites and proposes working through the comprehensive RLPI, which incorporate intermediate processes and impact pathways to understand the impact of innovations in rainwater management.

The RLPI methodology is further strengthened with participatory household surveys as a way to relate scientifically generated evidence with empirical evidence and eventually inform farmers’ decisions about adopting rainwater management innovations.

Read the research article

The CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food just published a new report from the Nile Basin setting out ways to enhance rainwater management (RWM) development processes.

In Ethiopia, considerable potential exists to enhance food production and rural livelihoods through better rainwater management – interventions which enable smallholder farmers to increase agricultural production – focusing on livestock, trees, fish as well as crops – by making better use of available rainwater while sustaining the natural resource base (water and soils) in rainfed farming systems.

Ethiopia has invested extensively in RWM interventions, in particular soil and water conservation and afforestation, over the last 40 years, but often with disappointing impact, for multiple reasons. Given this limited success in natural resource conservation, a new approach is clearly needed, but what should it be?

This report highlighted various livelihood issues that need to be considered if RWM activities are to be successful; it concludes with six recommendations:

  1. Shift the focus of targets from outputs to outcomes;
  2. Enhance monitoring and evidence collection on RWM with a focus on impact and sustainability;
  3. Revitalize and capitalize on the development agent system;
  4. Strengthen local institutions’ roles in natural resource management;
  5. Move towards more meaningful participation;
  6. Open lines of communication to foster innovation capacity.

Download the report

The first learning event of the thematic working group on technological innovation (1) of the national platform on land and water management took place on 6 December 2012. The event brought together representatives from the Amhara Regional Agricultural Research Institute (ARARI), the Water and Land Resource Center, Nile river basin authorities, the Ethiopian water harvesting association (ERHA), and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. All participants were invited to discover and test the new open source geographic information system (GIS) tool for suitability mapping “Nile-Goblet” and to ponder how to bring technical innovation on the ground.

The participants liked the tool very much, for its ease to make suitability maps without prior GIS knowledge. They also appreciated the fact that the tool allows anyone to introduce their technical expertise or local knowledge about suitability criteria following a very a transparent procedure. Subsequently, policy-makers and practitioners can identify with, understand and trust the resulting maps.

The tool is expected to emphasize the necessity to promote location-specific rainwater management and to help move away from today’s one-size-fits-all blanket approaches. Indeed, the maps generated by users can support the elaboration of context-specific policies. In combination with participatory approaches such as the Happy Strategies game, the maps also allow bringing in expert knowledge into a participatory approach and improving planning on the ground, together with communities.

The Nile Goblet tool: screenshot (Credit: ILRI / C. Pfeifer)

The Nile Goblet tool: screenshot (Credit: ILRI / C. Pfeifer)

Participants of the learning event found it very useful to come together to learn and discuss. It is likely that this group will meet again and possibly combine learning events with other events that are already planned and funded. Additionally, the Water and Land Resource Center – in collaboration with the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation – will look into opportunities to use and promote the Nile-Goblet tool for their own work.

On the second day of the workshop, an informal training course took place, aiming at adapting the tool for participants’ own needs.

The learning event brought together a budding community of practice which seems truly interested in location-specific rainwater management and has the capacity to carry out the work of the Nile Basin Development Challenge in this field further along.

On 18 December 2012, the learning event was followed by another introduction to the Nile-Goblet tool, this time for CGIAR staff in Ethiopia.

Read the notes of the Learning Event here.

Read more about the Nile-Goblet tool here.

View the presentation

Download a report of the workshop

(Article by Catherine Pfeifer)

Notes:

(1) The national platform on land and water management launched four thematic working groups in the course of 2012. Technological innovation is one of these working groups.

ILAC brief 14 'Engaging scientists through institutional histories', inspiring this work

The Nile Basin Development Challenge (NBDC) is in its final phase and its various teams are poised to document the interesting aspects of the work completed in the past years.  These crucial documentation efforts include a keen look on the institutional environment in which the NBDC has tried to bring about technological and indeed institutional innovation.

After experimenting with ‘most significant change‘ stories in 2011 and 2012, in late 2013, the NBDC project dedicated to Catalyzing platforms for learning, communication and coordination will undertake the development of institutional histories, under the supervision of Pamela Pali, poverty gender and impact specialist. All NBDC project teams should contribute to these efforts that will aim at unraveling the institutional conditions that have affected the work of NBDC as a whole. Institutional histories are an element of monitoring and learning work in the program.

What do we mean by institutional histories?

Institutions are the rules, norms, conventions, incentives and sanctions that govern activities which assume particular importance when organizations with different histories, cultures and mandates work together as is the case with the partners whom the Nile basin project collaborates with.

Institutional histories are a narrative of the ways of working that stem from rules, conventions, and routines governing behaviour (see ILAC brief 14). New working practices of different organizations must be documented because strong technological narratives tend to ignore the role of institutional change in achieving progress.

Institutional innovations are crucial for research organisations to cope with changing development agendas which demand partnerships with non-research organisations in the innovation system. Institutional histories draw institutional lessons from what works or does not work and promote new working practices.

Different types of organisations must work together for an institutional innovation to emanate because the rules and norms of working together must change for an institutional innovation to occur.

In the Nile Basin Development Challenge (NBDC), the development of institutional histories shall start at a later date in 2013.

More information on our wiki

By Pamela Pali.