Newsflash October 2020

Dear readers,

Welcome to the October 2020 Newsflash of the Flood-based Livelihoods Network. This time we have some exiting events to share with you and some interesting new resources that have been developed within the network. We trust these will of benefit to you and will inspire you to work on improving the lives of those which depend on floods for their livelihoods.

As always, feel free to share input or resources through

For now, stay safe and healthy,

The FBLN team.

Topics in this newsflash

  • DREAM ASAL Updates – Updates for the DREAM II Pre-Conferences
  • Farmers of old rely on El Niño
  • Recordings available of recent Webinars
  • Upcoming Webinar in the ICOMOS Water and Heritage series
  • Blog: The power of networking and opportunity analysis in times of COVID-19
  • New paper on the adoption of Road Water Harvesting Practices published

DREAM ASAL Updates – Updates for the DREAM II Pre-Conferences

Dear Colleague,

Following the DREAM I conference of September 2019, three virtual pre-conferences will take place, as part of the DREAM II conference. The three virtual events will develop a joint programming with private sectors, civil society organisations, development partners and government partners for strengthening the coordination, cooperation, and capacitation in the Dry Valley Rehabilitation and Productive Use approach (DVRPU).

The emergencies of 2020 emphasize the need for an aligned approach to systemically enhance the resilience of Ethiopia’s lowlands. The pre-conferences will hopefully contribute to bring all stakeholders closer together in the lowlands of Ethiopia.

The pre-conferences will be held on the following dates:

  • Coordination for pastoral and agro-pastoral communities in lowland areas
    November 3, 2020 (10:00- 13:00 East Africa Time) Click here to check your local timings
  • Cooperation for pastoral and agro pastoral communities in lowland areas
    November 12, 2020 (10:00-13:00 East Africa Time) Click here to check your local timings​
  • Capacitation for pastoral and agro pastoral communities in lowland areas
    ​​November 26, 2020 (10:00-13:00 East Africa Time) Click here to check your local timings 

Registration for the virtual events is now open through the website.

The conference programme is now also available online: download program.

There will be two venues in Semara and Jijiga where participants can follow the pre-conference in a venue with conference facilities and good internet connection. During your registration you can indicate if you want to make use of this option.
To contact the organisers send a message to

Further updates will follow soon. Please stay tuned with updates at

Farmers of old rely on El Niño

The Economist recently reported on interesting findings which provided a important insights into the strategies of ancient farmers in PAmpa de Mocan, a coastal desert plain in northern Peru. The research found that, as a coping strategy with El Niño, the farmers made use of the weather pattern in harvesting the water in the years of additional rainfall and growing crops of it. To be able to harvest the water the farmers developed an extensive systems of infrastructure which prepared them for when the rains would come.
This strategy is very different from the strategy of today’s farmers who . instead of using the rainfall, use canals to divers water from nearby rivers and years with the El Niño weather pattern are seen as bad years instead of years with opportunities.
Read the article on the FBLN website and access the complete research here.

One of the cisterns that was excavated as part of the research (source: The Economist)

Recordings available of recent Webinars

In the months of September and October hosted a series of interesting webinars. The recordings are now available through the website.

Upcoming Webinar in the ICOMOS Water and Heritage series

On November 17th the third webinar in the ICOMOS Webinar series on Cultural heritage solutions for water challenges will take place. During this third webinar, there will be special attention for the significance of Spate Irrigation Systems through a presentation by Karim Nawaz under the title: ‘Significance of the ancient Spate Irrigation systems for contemporary water challenges’.
For more details and to register, visit the information page on the webinar series. The deadline for registration is November 16th.

Blog: The power of networking and opportunity analysis in times of COVID-19

MetaMeta recently organised a networking event for the FBLN country chapters to toghether analyse the effects of COVID-19 on the livelihoods of the flood-based communities. Using an impact analysis tool developed by Judith de Bruijne, country specific impacts were analysed. To get an impression of some of the outcomes, read the blog on the event.

Want to learn more about the COVID-19 methodology for long-term impact and opportunity analysis on water, food and agriculture, please see the recording of the session and the presentation; or contact us through

One of the mind-maps prepared by the participants from Ethiopia.

New paper on adoption of Road Water Harvesting Practices published

Colleagues from the network recently published a paper on ‘Adoption of Road Water Harvesting Practices and Their Impacts: Evidence from a Semi-Arid Region of Ethiopia‘. The paper looks into the factors affecting the adoption of Road Water Harvesting Practices and their impacts.

The Abstract reads:
In the drylands of Ethiopia, several road water harvesting practices (RWHP) have been used to supplement rain-fed agriculture. However, factors a ecting adoption of RWHP and their impacts were not studied systematically. Understanding the factors influencing the adoption of RWHP for sustainable agricultural intensification and climate resilience is critical to promoting such technologies. This paper investigates the impacts of using rural roads to harvest rainwater runoff and the factors causing farmers to adopt the practice. Road water harvesting is considered a possible mechanism for transformative climate change adaptation. By systematically capturing rainfall with rural road infrastructure, rain-related road damage is reduced, erosion and landscape degradation due to road development is lessened, and farm incomes increase due to the beneficial use of harvested water, resulting in an increased climate change resilience. This paper uses a binary probit model and propensity score matching methods based on a household survey of 159 households and 603 plots. The results of the probit model show that the education level of the household, family labor, access to markets, and distance of the farming plot from the farmer’s dwelling are statistically significant in explaining farmers’ adoption of RWHP in the study area. The casual impact estimation from the propensity score matching suggests that RWHP has positive and significant impacts on input uses (farmyard manure and fertilizer), crop yield, and farm income among the sample households.

Access the paper here.

To close

Stay up to date with developments through our Facebook pageTwitter account and the FBLN website.

We hope you enjoyed reading this newsletter and we encourage you to share updates with the network!

Newsflash September 2020

Dear readers,

Welcome to the September 2020 Newsflash of the Flood-based Livelihoods Network. The year so far has been a year with a lot of challenges and unexpected events impacting the societies we live in. It has also been a year with flooding in some areas and an increase in the effects of locust swarms. As Network we have published a range of blogs and resources which we will also share as part of this newsflash. Lastly there are some upcoming events we want to bring under your attention.

As always, feel free to share input or resources through

For now, stay safe and healthy,

The FBLN team.

Topics in this newsflash

  • Outcomes from the Locust conference
  • Delineation of Flood-based Irrigation Potential
  • Documentary on Balochistan, Pakistan, at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA)
  • Upcoming Webinars on TheWaterChannel
  • Blogs on
  • DREAM2 conference, Ethiopia
  • Updates on the Newarbi project in Pakistan
  • New resources on the FBLN website

Outcomes from the Locust Conference

Locust outbreaks in 2019-20 in East Africa and West Asia have been the worst in decades. They have already wiped out massive amounts of crops, vast swathes of pasture. The sheer size of swarms and the sheer amount of food they devour within a matter of hours is triggering hunger crises—from Kenya and Ethiopia to Pakistan and India, and even Argentina most recently. In East Africa alone, 19 million are at risk of a much bigger crisis if the infestation continues unabated.

On August 10th, TheWaterChannel and the FBLN hosted the 1st Virtual Practitioners Conference on Desert Locust Management. The day-long conference brought together professionals working at the frontline of the locust crisis across the world. They presented and discussed the nature of the problem as experienced at global and local levels, and the solutions most likely to contain the ongoing outbreaks and control future crises.

All the recordings of this interesting and important event are available on the new TheWaterChannel-website, through

Delineation of Flood-based Irrigation Potential using Remote Sensing

Use of Remote Sensing technology has enormous potential for the analysis of the effect of measures on crop growth, biomass production and evaporation. Recently the technology has been used to delineate the area impacted by the construction of Water Spreading Weirs (WSW), in Afar Ethiopia. Through a sequence of steps the area is defined and then used as input for WaPOR data.
A presentation explaining the steps taken is available on the FBLN website.

Documentary on Balochistan, Pakistan, at the 2020 International Documentary FIlm Festival Amsterdam (IDFA)

During this year’s International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam (IDFA) a 2011 documentary from Balochistan will be aired. The documentary uses the viewpoint of a dromedary to provide a beautiful insight in the life in these areas.
The documentary is available for free through the website of the IDFA. See

Upcoming Webinars on TheWaterChannel

In the months September – November TheWaterChannel will be hosting a series under the title: ICOMOS Webinar Series: Cultural heritage solutions for water challenges.

The overall aim of the webinar series is to inform water professionals and heritage experts about the Water and Heritage initiative and its activities that aim at recognition by water managers that water related heritage can contribute significantly toward water challenges. The specific objective of the webinars is to encourage national working groups to be initiated with the longer-term objective to mobilize support to have Water and Heritage discussed at the UN International Water conference to be held in New York in 2023.

  • Webinar 1: Water & Heritage- Explained, September 16th
  • Webinar 2: Cooperation between the Water and Cultural Heritage sectors
  • Webinar 3: Telling examples and assessment methodologies

For more information, please visit: and register to participate for free.

New blogs on TheWaterChannel

New pictures on FBLN website

The FBLN website ( has an extensive photo library. In this section of the website, a range of photos from different FBLN aspects can be accessed. Categories include engineering, flood water & satellite images. Currently, the photo library is being updated with photos from the whole network.

If you have any FBLN-related photos to share, please share them through Thanks in advance!

Updates on DREAM2 Conference, Ethiopia

The Flood-based Livelihoods Network is involved in the organisation of the series of conferences on enhancing drought resilience and boosting overall development in the lowlands of Ethiopia, which have been branded as DREAM conferences (Development of Resilience Empowering Alternative Measures in Arid and Semi-Arid Lowlands of Ethiopia). A new website has recently been launched to bring together both the lessons of the past conferences as well as the information on the upcoming conferences,

Updates on the Newarbi project in Pakistan

As part of the New water rights for basin management and inclusivity in spate irrigated areas of Pakistan-project a series of resources has been published including a photobook, an overview paper on the Nai Gaj spate-system and a brochure on livelihood opportunities, which has been presented in a previous newsflash. The resources are available for download through the project-website:

New resources on the FBLN-website

Other resources

Stay up to date with developments through our Facebook page, Twitter account and the FBLN website.

We hope you enjoyed reading this newsletter and we encourage you to share updates with the network!

Newsflash April 2020

Dear readers,

Welcome to the April 2020 Newsflash of the Flood-Based Livelihoods Network. Our world is going through unprecedented times, due to the COVID-19 virus and the measures that are taken to reduce the spread of the virus. The impact on your personal life will be there, but will also vary from person to person. In this newsflash we have included some cases from communities depending on floods for their livelihood, where especially the families depending on daily wages are affected, but we also included some of the efforts that are being undertaken to cushion the effects.

As always, feel free to share input or resources through

For now, stay safe and healthy!

The FBLN Team

Effect of COVID-19 in Flood Based areas – request for ideas

COVID-19 has an effect on almost all groups of people and societies, including the Flood-Based areas. As Flood-Based Livelihoods Network we will organise an open Zoom meeting around this development in the coming weeks and we want to give you the opportunity to contribute your ideas on (1) how COVID-19 will affect Flood Based areas and (2) what response can be formulated.

Please share your contributions with us through The Zoom meeting will be announced in a separate Newsflash and through our Twitter & Facebook pages.

Blog on COVID-19: “Lockdowns in rural Pakistan – what to do”

Senior Agronomist Karim Nawaz describes what a COVID-19-lockdown looks like in a rural area, and how rural communities could be supported through it. This example is from Pakistan but relevant to rural contexts across the board.

The blog especially zooms in on spate-irrigated areas, where the lack of movement is taking its toll. Also, recommendations are made to support the population engaged in spate irrigation areas.

The blog can be read here.

Distribution of food packages – One of the recommendations made in the blog

Effects of lockdown on labour and harvest

As mentioned in the blog above, the corona virus affects spate-irrigated areas and the communities depending on these areas for their livelihoods. This is also the case for Tehsil Jampur, Rajanpur District, Pakistan. In this area, the growth and anticipated harvest of wheat was quite reasonable this year and the mechanical harvest was completed for 75%. However, the corona pandemic has disabled the movement of laborers to the adjacent plains. As a result, they cannot make any money and there is little labour available to carry out weeding prior to harvest. As a result the weeds are harvested together with the wheat and this affects both the quantity and quality of the harvest, and thus also the price.

Mechanical harvest
Field of harvested wheat
Khuram Mubeen and others during their visit to the area

Follow-up workshop in Yemen

In the last month, the Water and Environment Centre (WEC) of Sana’a University organized a multiple-day workshop for policy makers and other stakeholders to present the outcomes of the recent assessment and to plan for the re-development of the Spate Irrigation systems of Yemen.

The overall aim of this earlier assessment and workshop was to achieve food security, allocate poverty and to rise livelihoods. This will be done by rehabilitating the Tihama Spate Irrigation System, for which proposals are being written and in which the Yemen chapter of the FBLN has an important role.

During the workshop several topics have been discussed. Initially, the water and resilience problems have been defined, followed by designing a plan of recovery on utilities level. A training on collaboration between the WEC and LC (local corporations) took place, besides a risk assessment from the gender perspective. On the last day, an open discussion on how to implement the training in the coming phases was planned.

Opening slide of the multiple-day workshop
Use of sticky notes to brainstorm on the topics
Impression of the workshop

Webinars on TheWaterChannel

In April, TheWaterChannel hosted two interesting webinars. A brief summary + link to recordings can be found below. Updates on upcoming webinars will be posted on

Past Webinars

April 8 – Ecologically-based Rodent Management (EBRM) for Food Security

  • The rodent problem in agriculture is bigger than most of us realise.
  • 15% of all stored and standing crops are destroyed by rodents globally.
  • In some parts, rodents damage upto 46% of all food.

In Ethiopia, rodents cost the economy $2 billion in losses, individual farmers lose $100-230 per hectare annually.
How to curb this menace without harming the environment, people, and pets/livestock?
In this webinar, Luwieke Bosma from MetaMeta and Getachew Engdayehu from Amhara Bureau of Agriculture and Rural Development shared their experiences implementing EBRM, and discussed its relevance to farmers elsewhere.

The recording of the webinar can be accessed here.

April 15 – Green Roads for Water, for Resilience & Recovery

Over the past few years, ‘Green Roads for Water’ programmes have been introduced in over than 10 countries, and have brought about marked improvements in water availability and road management. The relevance of these programmes, this approach to infrastructure, is high in these times of Corona when people’s resilience is being pushed to the limits. Firstly, it helps create new sources of water wherever roads are built. Secondly, when built into social safety net and recovery programmes, it creates employment as well as better rural roads.
In this webinar, several MetaMeta experts shared their experiences and all questions of the participants were answered.

The recording of the webinar can be accessed here.

New pictures on FBLN website

The FBLN website ( has an extensive photo library. In this section of the website, a range of photos from different FBLN aspects can be accessed. Categories include engineering, flood water & satellite images. Currently, the photo library is being updated with photos from the whole network.

If you have any FBLN-related photos to share, please share them through Thanks in advance!

Flooded tree – Afar, Ethiopia – One of the new photos in the library

Postcard from the Beja, Akla Almahate, Eastern Sudan: Health, Water, Education, Work

In this blog, the livelihoods of the Beja are described. The Beja have been living in the land between the Nile and the Red Sea for centuries. An important Beja community is located in eastern Sudan at Gash basin in Kassala State. The blog especially highlights the gender aspects in this community and describes some possibilities to improve live of women in this area.

The blog can be accessed here.

Portable tents belonging to the Beja community

Blog on Symbiosis: Pastoralists and Farmers in Balochistan

There is a narrative that the competition between pastoralist and farmers in arid areas is a sure route to conflict, and there are many examples that illustrate this – from Darfur in Sudan to Afar and Issa in Ethiopia. Yet this need not be so. Relations between pastoralist and farmers can be just as well symbiotic, mutually beneficial, and relatively peaceful. This the story from Balochistan – Pakistan’s large arid western-most Province.

Curious about the rest of the blog? Read it here.

Symbiosis between pastoralists and farmers

Presentation on “Pre-analysis Wadi Mawr, Yemen”

An analysis of productivity and evapotranspiration in Spate Irrigation through Remote Sensing

Many areas in the world are not easily accessible by everyone every day, whether it be conflict, financial restrictions, or remote areas lacking infrastructure. Additionally, when trying to obtain an understanding of what is going on in certain regions and systems, an observation from a single day may not suffice and it is difficult to go back in time for historical observations. This brings us to the power of remote sensing. Through freely available software’s and daily datasets of the past decades, analyses can be conducted from home of any place in the world. Even though it is vital to combine these analyses with ground data and local knowledge for further interpretation, a relatively quick first impression can be obtained using remote sensing. This quick assessment can then be used to select areas of interest for further analyses. 

In this presentation an example is provided of a pre-analyses of Wadi Mawr in Yemen using the FAO WaPOR database ( This analysis was a first experiment of using WaPOR for spate irrigation. It is only in the beginning stage and will need to be further worked out based on the needs on the ground and using ground data. However, from this pre-analysis some first insights can be obtained of the area. Wadi Mawr is the northern most large spate irrigation systems on Yemen’s Red Sea Coast (Tihama). The Tihama was Yemen’s ‘grain basket’ and ‘fodder basket’ – and in fact the only area that contributes to food security in the country – though Yemen for many years imported 85-90% of its grains. The Tihama system suffered heavily from the war – less inputs, less maintenance, and more infestation of invasive species blocking irrigation canals.

The presentation is accessible through

Upcoming DREAM2 Conference

The dates for the 2020 DREAM ASAL conference have been set. It is tentatively scheduled to take place from 20 – 24 September in Jijiga, Ethiopia. DREAM is an abbreviation for Development of Resilience Empowering Alternative Measures for Ethiopian Lowlands, which is an ongoing project of GIZ. More details will be shared in the next FBLN Newsflash.

Other resources

Stay up to date with developments through our Facebook pageTwitter account and the FBLN website.

We hope you enjoyed reading this newsletter and we encourage you to share updates with the network!

Newsflash March 2020

We have prepared a new Newsflash for you full with updates from the network, including the newest resources and papers published. Feel free to share your feedback, news or ideas with us through

Enjoy the reading!

Sudan – “FBLN Curriculum meeting”

Recently, representatives of different universities, institutes and FBLN chapters had a multiple-day workshop in Wad Medani and Kassala, Sudan. The topic of this workshop was the integration of FBLS in education and institutes. Presentations covered topics which can be integrated in the FBLS curricula such as soil moisture management, use of Remote Sensing and Gender and Well-being in FBLS. The presentations and additional pictures can be accessed through via this link

More on the results of the curriculum development in Kenya can be found later on in this newsletter.

Besides presentations and discussions, the group visited the Gezira Irrigation Scheme and Gash, a spate irrigation system in the East of Sudan. 

Gezira Irrigation Scheme
Part of the group at Gezira
Diversion structure in Gash spate irrigation scheme, notice the build-up of sediments which can be up to 10cm/year

Update from Myanmar – Climate resilience through flood risk reduction map for the Ayeyarwaddy Delta

The Department of Agriculture (DoA) of Myanmar states that floods cause the loss of 350,000 tons of rice annually in the Ayeyarwady Delta.  Changes in flood behaviour and rainfall patterns, make floods the primary cause of crop losses in the delta. For this reason, the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) updated outdated maps, which were very limited. The new maps indicate which areas are suitable for what category of rice (favourable/modern, deep water and flooded), in the whole delta.

The maps help the DoA extension staff to better help farmers match their rice variety choices and planting times. In order to facilitate the interpretation, application and updating of these maps, IWMI conducted presentations and several short theory and practical training events for all administrative levels within the DoA.

A more extended article can be found here. For more in, Sanjiv De Silva of IWMI can be contacted via S.S.DESILVA@CGIAR.ORG.

One of the produced maps for Ayeyarwady Delta
DoA staff discussing the township maps with IWMI staff

Alluvial fan and spate irrigation in Iran

This simulated natural-colour image of south-eastern Fars province in southern Iran shows a dry river channel carving through arid mountains toward the northeast, clear indications of the existence of a spate irrigation system. The dry river spreads out across the valley floor in a silvery fan. A broad belt of lush agricultural land follows the curve of the fan and stretches out along a road that runs parallel to the ridgeline. The valley-ward margin of the intensely green agricultural belt fades to dull green along streams (or irrigation canals). The image was captured by the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) on NASA’s Terra satellite on October 12, 2004.
The images have been accessed through the website of Nasa.

Policy and stakeholder workshop organised in Yemen

In February’s newsflash, we wrote about the assessment of the Tihama Wadis Spate Irrigation Systems by Water and Environment Centre (WEC) and FBLN Yemen. Following this assessment, the WEC is organising a workshop for policy makers and other stakeholders to present the outcomes of the recent assessment and to plan for the re-development of the Spate Irrigation systems of Yemen. 
The overall aim of this earlier assessment and workshop is to achieve food security, allocate poverty and to rise livelihoods. This will be done by rehabilitating the Wadis Spate Irrigation System, for which proposals are being written, in which the Yemen chapter of the FBLN has an important role.
The FBLN teamleader for Yemen, Dr. Sharafaddin can be contacted for more information,

Canals overgrown with prosopis, showing the need for maintenance
Announcement of the policy and stakeholder workshop @ the WEC in Sana’a, Yemen

Postcard from the Beja, Akla Almahate, Eastern Sudan: Health, Water, Education, Work – a blog on the use of the well-being survey in Gash

During the recent curriculum workshop the team took the opportunity to visit some communities in the Gash Spate Irrigation scheme and gather a better understanding of their lives, the challenges they come across and how the community is set-up. A tool called ‘well-being survey’ was used for this activity, with a special focus on understanding the role of women and children in society.
On the WaterChannel a blog has been published, presenting some of the interesting findings of this survey. See

Updates from Pakistan (1) – Spreading the message

Recently, a lot has been going on in Pakistan regarding flood-based farming. There have been awareness campaigns on radio and results of recent research has been presented at international conferences. Besides that, the spate irrigation brochure, which has been made by MetaMeta and the Pakistan FBLN chapter, has been translated to the natio-nal language and distributed at the MNS University. The brochure can be accessed through this link. The aim of these efforts is to increase the visibility of FBLS.

Awareness campaign on national radio
Presentations of FBLS at international conferences
Distribution of Spate Irrigation brochures translated in Urdu amoungst students

Updates from Pakistan (2) – Visit to Sanghar hill torrent

Also, FBLN Pakistan recentlyvisited Sanghar hill torent, which has a potential to support 33.000 acres of flood-based farming. Currently, only 4600 acres of this command area are cultivated. Plants with medicinal value were found and possible crops were indentified. This area has high potential for improvement; a lot of tree species and medicinal plant are suitable in this area. Some of these species were already found growing wild. 

Peganum Harmala Plant (Hermal Seed) – High potential for this medicinal plant in this area
Livestock in Sanghar command area
Potential for agroforestry

Kenya – Curriculum review and development

Even though flood-based livelihoods exist for a long time, they are relatively new in Kenyan education, extension services and science. For this reason, the FBLS Foundation aims to give FBLS a place in extension services and higher education. In Kenya, meetings between FBLS team members, universities and tertiary institutions took place, in order to:

  • Solidify the knowledge on FBLS by upscaling the knowledge base, both geographically and content wise
  • Strengthen the content and delivery of FBLS courses that have been mainstreamed in universities and other educational institutions
  • Assess the potential opportunities for introduction of FBLS courses in various educational institutions
Consultative meeting at Kenya School of Agriculture

Tertiary institutions

The tertiary institutions involved are CETRAD (Centre for Training and Research in Asal Development), Kenya School of Government (KSG) and Kenya Water Institute (KEWI). They aim to design short courses for different target populations and to integrate flood-based farming in already existing courses and manuals.


The universities currently involved are Egerton University, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology and University of Nairobi. The aim is to integrate flood-based farming into the BSc and MSc curricula and to provide courses for other target groups such as practitioners, policy makers and farmers.

WaPOR analysis at weir locations in Afar, Ethiopia

FBLN Ethiopia has been involved in an analysis of the effects of the construction of Water Spreading Weirs (WSWs). One of the tools to analyse the effects of this intervention is the WAPOR tool, developed by the FAO, see In past editions of the newsflash we have also referred to this tool as we believe it can be of great use for the analysis of Spate Irrigation systems and more broadly areas in which FBLS is applied.

In the specific case of the application of WSWs in Afar the following outcomes were discovered:

  1. Actual evapotranspiration and interception (AETI) show continuously increased from 2009 to 2018. After the weir were constructed (after 2014) the value of AETI were increased. This is probably due to construction of weirs. Maybe after the weir were constructed the harvested water might have increases the value of evaporated water from soil body and from plants leaves.
  2. The value of Net Primary Production (NPP) also clearly increased after the weir were constructed. Net Primary Production means in other word above ground biomass. Comparing biomass before the weir were constructed (2013) and after the weir were constructed (2016 &2018), high biomass was observed in 2016 and 2018 at all weir locations. So, this incremental of biomass is also due to construction of weirs.
  3. The value of normalized difference soil moisture index (NDMI) show some variation over the area. At some weir location the value increased after weir were constructed, but at some weir location the value is declined after weir were constructed.

For more background on Water Spreading Weirs, see this section of the Wocat website. and the gallery on the FBLN website as well as the academic articles mentioned further on in this newsflash.

Locations of the Water Spreading Weirs which were assessed using WaPOR
Analysis of the Net Primary Production at one of the WSW sites. The analysis clearly shows and increase in the NPP in 2016 and 2018, when compared to 2009

Desert locusts – Video

Desert locusts’ outbreaks in the recent months in East Africa and West Asia have been the biggest and most destructive in decades. They have wiped away hectares of standing crops, pastureland, and food reserves of hundreds of thousands of farmers.

In this interview from the WaterChannel, Senior Agronomist Camillo Risoli explains why, despite technological advancements, these little grasshoppers continue to outfox us. He also highlights the importance of ‘Locust Prospectors,’ who work tirelessly in deserts for months on end, detecting and destroying locust colonies before they grow wings and become unstoppable; and how the deteriorating security situation in Africa’s Sahel region (the breeding ground for desert locusts) has impeded their crucial work.

Click here to watch this video on the

Screenshot of the video on desert locusts

Rodent control – Video

Rodents are a major threat for agriculture and food security worldwide. The rodent problem in agriculture is bigger than most of us realise.

  • Globally, 15% of all stored and standing crops are destroyed by rodents
  • In some parts of the world, rodents damage up to 46% of all food
  • In Ethiopia alone, the rodent problem costs the economy $2 billion annually.
  • Rodents cost a farmerbetween$105 and $230 per hectare, annually

This clip describes how to curb this menace without harming the environment, people, andlivestock.The bio-rodenticide featured in this video is produced from botanical extracts, by local women groups. Unlike chemicalrodenticides, it does not have any inclement effects on the environment, humans, pets, or livestock.

Click here to watch this video on the

Screenshot of the video on rodent control

Rock carvings in Mehar Tukk Hill, Pakistan

Rock carvings are found in Mehar Tuck Hill near Mian Saleh Graveyard UC Khari Tehsil Ganadawah District Jhal Magsi Balochistan, which is within Spate Irrigation systems. These human and animal figurines and hunting scenes are located in Mula River area and believed to be 8.000 – 10.000 years old, which underlines the old roots and ancient nature of Spate Irrigation.

New resources

There has been increasing interest for the construction of Water Spreading Weirs (WSW) in Afar, Ethiopia. Recently three research papers have been published in the Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems journal of Cambridge University Press. The articles look into various aspects of these facilities.
Assessing potential locations for flood-based farming using satellite imagery: a case study of Afar region, Ethiopia
Article 1
Water spreading weirs altering flood, nutrient distribution and crop productivity in upstream–downstream settings in dry lowlands of Afar, Ethiopia
Article 2
Facilitating livelihoods diversification through flood-based land restoration in pastoral systems of Afar, Ethiopia
Article 3
The papers go into WSWs which have been built under GIZ projects from 2015 onwards. The results are very encouraging from an increase in land cover and biomass production to diversification of household income to the use of Remote Sensing in identifying potential sites.

Other resources

Stay up to date with developments through our Facebook pageTwitter account and the FBLN website.
We hope you enjoyed reading this newsletter and we encourage you to share updates with the network! 

Special Newsflash Livelihood Opportunities in FBLS

In an earlier newsflash, you might have read that MetaMeta recently published an overview of “Improved Livelihoods Opportunities in Spate Irrigation”. This catalogue contains an overview of several improvements in the management and utilization of spate irrigation systems based on good practices in different spate irrigation systems in the world.

Improved Livelihood Opportunities in Spate Irrigation

In this special newsflash, a selection of these improvements is being highlighted, accompanied with many photos, videos and other useful resources. The numbers behind the different improvements, match with the numbers in the catalogue.
Enjoy the reading and watching!

Controlled overflow structures (1.4)

In spate irrigation systems, controlled overflow structures help water getting from a fully filled field to the next field in a controlled way. They avoid breaching of the side bunds, gullying and rutting from the water that rushes out of the field. There are several examples of such controlled overflow structures. The pictures below show examples of these controlled overflow structures. The structure in the second picture also includes a basin to catch the sediment. These are examples from spate systems in Pakistan.

Controlled overflow structure
Controlled overflow structure

Road water harvesting (1.9)

Road water harvesting is the practice of harvesting the water runoffs from roads, and making effective use of it. There are several options to apply road water harvesting. The first is to use channels and culverts to spread the water over the land to provide additional water for crops, grasses or trees. Another option is to first collect the water in storage structures, like roadside ponds, in order to use the water at a later moment. Another option is to not use the water for agriculture directly or for surface storage, but to spread it over areas with high infiltration to boost shallow aquifer recharge increasing the local water levels.
On the website a lot of resources on the potential of road water harvesting can be found. Also, several videos and case studies about different types and ways of road water harvesting can be found there. On, a video about road water harvesting in Malawi has been published recently. Practical notes have been written about road water harvesting in Kenya and more specific about water harvesting on road crossings.

Road water harvesting in a pond
Road water harvesting for direct use in agriculture
Road water harvesting in Malawi

Oilseed crops (2.7)

Oilseed crops generally have a lower water requirement then wheat. Also, they perform better than wheat during dry spells. There are a number of oilseeds that have proven to be promising for spate irrigated areas including rapeseed, mustard, canola, sunflower, safflower, sesame, castor and linseed. A practical note has been written about oilseed crops for spate irrigated farming in Pakistan, which is also highly relevant for other spate areas. To actually make use of the oil in the seeds, ideally an oil press is needed. The oil press will be discussed later in this newsflash (3.3). Currently, oilseed crops are sometimes grown as a mix crop with wheat and fodders. There is a growing market for oils from organic seeds, which is applicable to spate irrigated crops as they are by their nature grown in an organic style (see 3.6).

Oilseed crops
Harvesting oilseed crops

Scythe (2.9)

The scythe is used to harvest dry-stem crops and grasses. It reduces long working hours compared to a sickle since it weeds four times faster than a sickle. It is used by twisting the upper body and then cutting up to 30 cm of plants that stand to the right in one sway. In order to use it, some practicing and training is needed, but this investment is more than worth the outcome. The blade of the scythe should be strong and the handle long enough for the thick varieties of sorghum. In this clip you can see how the scythe is being used in Sudan. Also, in there a comparison is made between the scythe method and the traditional method of harvesting. This clip, is about the scythe project in India. It is even more extensive and it also contains farmers responses to the scythe after having used it.


Oil press (3.3)

The oil press is a necessary and very handy tool to extract oil from oilseed crops. It is an electrical machine that extracts oil from different kind of seeds such as rapeseed, mustard and sesame. It processes the seeds to produce a high value oil. Besides that, it reduces potential losses from rodents, birds and molds attacking seeds, because the seeds will have been processed already. The raw seeds are squeezed under high pressure, friction causes it to heat up and the oil seeps through small openings that do not allow seed fiber to pass. This way, a high value oil has been created. In Pakistan, the use of such an oil press is already quite common in rural areas and solar powered options are being developed to be able to use the press in areas without electricity.

Oil press

Market for organic consumption (3.6)

A majority of the crops grown in flood-bases livelihood systems, is free from chemicals and is grown as organic crops. This organic production is recognized for its good quality and better taste. However, due to remoteness of the spate areas, the market for agricultural (organic) products is local. These organic products could be sold either double or more than double of the price in international markets. Connection of organic producers with traders, retailers, wholesalers, processers and certifiers is needed to form the value chain of these organic products. These crops need to be marketed so they grab the attention of these stakeholders. 
For guar, the market for organic consumption has a lot of potential. Guar is the most widely used general purpose thickener and texture modifier in the food industry. For organic products, organic guar is needed. Here definitely lies potential for spate irrigation systems in growing guar as an income generating crop. An extensive practical note has been written about supply and value chains of organic and niche crops in spate ecologies.

Market for organic consumptions

Controlling rodents (3.8)

Rodents are both a threat before harvest as they decrease the potential harvest, as after harvest when storage is not properly arranged. Currently, an estimated 15% of all stored and standing crops are destroyed by rodents globally. It can be concluded, that rodents have an enormous effect on worldwide food security. Biological control of rodents has high potential in rodent control, while using the indigenous knowledge of the local people. Also, this would minimize the side effects of polluting the environment that comes from using rat poison. Very recently, MetaMeta made a clip about ecologically based rodent management in which several methods are shown as well as the production of a plant based rodenticide which can be made through local businesses.


Poultry (4.2)

This video is about the best practices of keeping poultry. Currently, scavenging is the norm, which leads to underweight and diseased chicken. There are simple ways to turn this around – and make a big difference in the production of meat and eggs, and to rural health in general. Key element are vaccinating, small hen house, candling eggs to check their fertility and better hatching. This is where the hatching pan is brought into the picture. In this blog, more about the advantages and possibilities of the hatching pan can be found. The blog also includes a video in which a demonstration is given about how to locally make a hatching pan through an example in Bangladesh.

Hatching pan

Breeding and exchange programs (4.6, 4.7, 4.8)

In spate irrigation systems in for example Eritrea, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Sudan, Yemen, different breeds of goat, sheep and bullocks are common and unique to the spate areas. Each of them has their own qualities, like good meat, high milk yield, temperament and heat and disease tolerance. Breeding and exchanging these breeds between spate areas can increase the production of meat and milk. In this brochure, more information about the specific breeds and their qualities can be found. An extensive practical note has been written about livestock breeds in spate irrigation.


Agroforestry (5.1)

Agriculture using trees has several advantages. Soil fertility can be increased by the use of nutrient fixing trees. Trees can be used to break the wind and to control erosion. Furthermore, water availability can be increased.  Systems that can be implemented are alley cropping, multistrata, silvopasture and woodlots. 

Specific examples of agroforestry are the Acacia Ehrenbergia which serve as input for charcoal production in Yemen and plantations of Acacia Nilotica in Pakistan.

On a lot of practical notes can be found, which also pay attention to agroforestry. Especially this one is worth reading with regard to this topic.

Agroforestry – Multistrata
Agroforestry – Intercropping of melia vaolkensii, neem tree and bananas

Honey production (5.5)

The production of honey is a possibility to have a more diverse and resilient livelihood. High quality honey can give a high profit on the market, and thus be a good source of income, also for women There are several multipurpose trees and shrubs like Selam, Sedr, Ber, Date palm, Karita, Mesquite, Wanza and Poinsettia that can be used for honey production. These trees and shrubs have also other purposes than honey production, like firewood, timber, fruits, fencing, medicinal, charcoal, erosion control and shading. More about the specific possibilities about different trees and their suitability for honey production can be read in the Practical Note on The Use of Trees and Shrubs in Spate Irrigation Areas.

Honey production

Resource Documents on FBLN-website

On the FBLN website, there is a specific section for resource documents, to which has been linked frequently in this newsletter.

This part of the website strives to serve as a platform to disseminate and share our findings, project reports and experiences in different aspects of FBLS; technical, socio-economical, historical as well as policy and legislative aspects. In the resource documents there are photographs (library section) and training modules besides reports, theses (both in library section), videos and other documents.

We hope you enjoyed this newsflash and encourage you to share the good practices in your network!