On 3 February 2011, team members from the Nile Basin Development Challenge joined a one-day ‘Share Fair’ in Addis Ababa. Organized by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), the event brought together 10 Agriculture Water Management projects to present their objectives, intended outcomes, products, timelines, stakeholders and geographical focus.

Each of ten participating projects presented a summary of their aims, activities, target groups, and perceived ‘unique selling points’ and areas where they face challenges.

Drawing on the strengths and weaknesses identified by the projects, participants then explored potential collaboration, with a focus on Ethiopia where all are active.

The event was strongly supported by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) – that funds several of the projects and wished to see greater synergies and learning across the various projects. It was facilitated by Nadia Manning-Thomas from the CGIAR ICT-KM Program (Nadia’s blog post)

The collective ‘unique selling points’ shared by the agri-water initiatives profiled at the event included:

  • We are a network not a project;
  • We employ open source sharing;
  • Our focus is on practical and do-able activities;
  • We focus on institutional contexts;
  • We have objective solid evidence from the field;
  • We are strong in climate, hydrological and water resource modeling;
  • We are strong in anthropological research;
  • We are strong in hydro-geological and socio-econonmic assessments;
  • We work closely with national and regional partners to spur widespread innovation, policy influence and institutional strengthening;
  • We employ cross-basin learning, knowledge sharing and continual communication for adaptive management;
  • We are expert in capacity building in Agwater management and in knowledge sharing skills;
  • We have an AgWater Management platform that people can use;
  • We will be able to provide local and specific assistance to farmers, in quasi real time; Our resources will be transparent (on the web);
  • We are able to implement new ideas quickly;
  • We have the largest water-related video collection on the web.

The collective ‘challenges’ points shared by the agri-water initiatives profiled at the event included:

  • How to operationalize demand-responsive, participatory, inclusive learning alliance/platform;
  • How to avoid ‘business as usual’;
  • How to develop creative and effective outreach;
  • How to translate findings to useful information;
  • How to cope with a massive scope in a short duration;
  • How to convert complex information into slick messages;
  • How to sustain functional partnership beyond financial incentives;
  • Can real small farmers do anything with the information we provide;
  • How can we engage with people beyond the water world;
  • how to derive actionable projects and results from our research messages.

Participating projects were:

View the ‘report’ of the meeting as two powerpoint files: