Newsflash September 2018

Short course road water harvesting

The Water and Environment Centre (WEC) in Yemen designed a short course on road water harvesting, explaining what techniques can be of great use to facilitate beneficial water management. In this short course, different methods of retaining and recharging water from roads, making use of on-going investment in roads development and rehabilitation to secure local water resources is explained deeply. It argues to take a multi-functional look at roads: whilst roads deliver transport and communication services, at the same time they can contribute to water security, flood control and erosion mitigation. In this way the high investment in road connectivity in Yemen can even render a much broader impact on livelihoods and economic development. This short course is initiated following extensive consultations with several water and agriculture sector organizations, and road authority in Yemen, as well as with international partners of WEC involved in the implementation of the Flood-Based Farming project, Roads for Water and other projects. You can find the course here.

Grain storage – hermetic bags

Globally, postharvest loss is a major problem affecting the agricultural industry. According to the FAO estimations, about 30% to 40% of food crops is lost or wasted before it gets to the market: These losses can be as high as 40%-50% for root crops, fruits and vegetables, 30% for cereals and fish, and 20% for oilseeds. This is due to lack of appropriate post-harvest storage, processing and transportation systems. In developing countries, food losses occur in the production chain and small farmers suffers the most. Hermetic storage technology is usually pesticide-free storage bags that eliminates both insects and mould by reducing oxygen/water levels and producing carbon dioxide in the storage units. The technology has been tried in Kenya and other countries which provided successful recommendation. These storage bags have the capacity to store cereals for a maximum of up-to two years while retaining their distinct quality.  Moreover, hermetic bags greatly address the human health and safety challenges posed by the earlier conventional method of treating stored cereals and grain with pesticides. With these bags, no pesticides are required to treat such stored grains and cereals. The hermetic storage bags have the potential to increase household consumption and cash sales of surplus of cereals for millions of rural households by offering cost effective and efficient. Access to safe, affordable on farm storage technologies allows small scale farming farmers to keep grain year-round for household consumption while providing the household with a marketable asset in case of emergency. Improved grain retention also generates smart income for farmers by giving them the opportunity to sell when market prices are more favourable. Hermetic storage has the same weight as traditional bags and requires no additional labour. These bags can be easily stored within home and protected from theft and animals. Empty bags can be reused for up to five times with no loss in performance.  Hermetic storage is sustainable; it is environmentally and user friendly. The technology can be adapted to the protection of commodities in sizes ranging from that of conventional grain bag size to many thousands of tonnes.
Currently a hermetic bag in Kenya is retailing at Kes 250/= (2.45USD) and there are only five authorized manufacturers of certified hermetic technology bags namely: Purdue Improved Crop Storage (PICS), ZeroFly Storage Bags, Elite Storage Bags, Grain Pro Storage Bags and AgroZ Storage Bags. Each of these bags have the same hermetic principles but differs in design. A hermetic storage system can be made from specially designed PVC containers such as: Cocoon™ (commercially available), the GrainSafe, the smaller 50kg IRRI Super bags (available to farmers and processors at low cost) and locally available containers (useful in rural settings, where local containers can be easily converted into hermetic storage systems). The size of hermetic storages can range from 3 litres to 2,000 tons. They can be used for paddy, brown rice, and other cereal crops such as maize and also coffee. Larger hermetic storage systems have also been used with milled rice. Currently, the hermetic storage bags are used by small scale farmers in Kenya. The growing demand are stimulated by USAID, Kenya Agricultural Values VChainEnterprises (KAVES), private companies and other development partners.





Participatory design approach for modernization of spate irrigation systems

Spate Irrigation represents the main source of livelihood for rural population of many communities living in arid and semi-arid areas of the world. The area of Raya Valley in Ethiopia, is one such example that is used to analyse the importance of participatory approach in making this irrigation technique sustainable, effective and durable. Spate irrigation development projects realised in Raya Valley during the last twenty years led to a partial failure, due to the low involvement of local farmers who have experience of the local environment and who have been practising the techniques from centuries. Recently a paper has been published by the Water Harvesting Lab named ‘’A Participatory Design Approach for Modernization of Spate Irrigation Systems’’. It can be downloaded here. The paper describes the implementation of a participatory methodology, based on the integration of Participatory Rural Appraisal and Participatory Design, for the design of effective improvements in a traditional spate irrigation system in Raya Valley. New insights from local farmers knowledge, to be considered for future spate irrigation development projects, are analysed and presented.

Videos on TWC

The Water Channel (TWC) is an open resource with lots of videos related to water. TWC supports, stimulates and inspires people all over the world to work towards better management of water and natural resources. Besides videos, TWC also shares blogs and training materials and organizes live broadcasted webinars on water related topics. We as the FBLN also frequently upload videos and blogs with our partners. Here a small selection of interesting videos related to FBLS:

Video: Sandbar Cropping: Hope 4 Millions @ Practical Action Bangladesh

Ever heard of sandbar cropping? This is an innovation implemented in north-west Bangladesh where heavy floods frequently occur. This threat is turned into an opportunity, transforming deserts in to green fields. More info can be found here.

Video: Roads as Dams: Burkina Faso

In Burkina Faso, it is standard practice to consider optimizing designing roads in such a way that they can be used as small dams. Benefits of this approach are substantial, especially among the small farmers dwelling in the roadside communities. 

Video: Spate irrigation: first floods

This video provides a snapshot of first floods in a seasonal river in Dayu Kebele, Raya Alamata Woreda in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray province. The seasonal floods are key to irrigation, groundwater recharge, and rural livelihoods in the region.