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 info@spate-irrigation.org.

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
Presentations
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 For this reason, the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) updated outdated maps, which were very limited.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, sharaf1960s@gmail.com.

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 http://www.thewaterchannel.tv/thewaterblog.

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.

Universities

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 https://wapor.apps.fao.org/home/WAPOR_2/1. 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 WaterChannel.tv.

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 WaterChannel.tv.

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 roadsforwater.org 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 thewaterchannel.tv, 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.

Scythe

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.

Rodent

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.

Goat
Sheep
Bullock

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 spate-irrigation.org 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!

Newsflash February 2020

We have prepared a new Newsflash for you full with updates from the network from Yemen, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Kenya and more, including the newest resources and papers published. Feel free to share your feedback, news or ideas with us through info@spate-irrigation.org.

Enjoy the reading!

Pakistan – solar packs for rural equipment

The FBLN is working with RDF, one of our partners in Pakistan, on solar packs for small rural equipment’s such as small grinders (for chickpea powder) and milk churners. We believe this can relief the workload of women and create income opportunities in the areas where households depend on floods.

A locally developed grinder at a mill in Nai Gaj, Pakistan.

Pakistan – proposals through the Asian Development Bank (ADB)

A delegation from ADB recently visited Balochistan area, Pakistan, to assess possibilities for investments in spate irrigation systems. Similar efforts are taking place in Sindh and Punjab where, together with the local authorities, proposals are being developed to invest in spate systems.

The role of drinking water in Flood Based Livelihoods Systems

Water, and more specific drinking water is key for human survival. In most spate irrigation systems, surface water or (open) drinking water ponds are the only source of water, especially in areas where the groundwater aquifers are too deep or containing brackish water. The priority of drinking water is shown by the fact that, within the distribution of the spate flows, the first priority is to fill the ponds. However, when the ponds dry up, the cost of accessing water increases greatly. We have come across specific cases where households have to travel 8 kilometres to fetch water, using a motorbike, at a cost of $1/20 litres jerrycan.

The question we can ask ourselves is, ‘are these also the so called ‘last mile communities’?
Within the setting of the spate systems, there are options to improve both the access to water as well as the quality of the water. One of the treatments used locally is flocculants, which will remove most of the solids. Options focussing more on the quality of the water are water filters or constructing a (shallow) tube well close to the pond and using the subsurface flow as a pathway to clean the water before use.

See also the recent blog ‘the mother of all ponds’ on thewaterchannel.tv for some inspiration.

Boys fetching water from a typical (drinking) water pond in the Bhag Narri spate system, Pakistan

Yemen – Tihama and the changed water distribution

The country of Yemen has a long and ancient history of Spate Irrigation systems. However, due to the current conflict many of the wadis and other infrastructure have been neglected and (partly) lost their function.

Recently a team of the Water and Environment Centre (WEC) of Sana’a University and the FBLN Yemen visited the Wadis in Tihamam with an aim to assess the current situation and to collect information for the development of proposals for Tihama Wadis Spate Irrigation Systems Rehabilitation; To Achieve Food Security, and Poverty Allocation and livelihood rising.

Some of the findings of the visits are:

  • There is a positive mindset to revitalise the spate systems and bring them back to use after 5 years of conflict and neglect. The spate systems can play a major role in the food security in Yemen, as they have in the past.
  • The years of conflict have affected the systems in reduced maintenance, weakening of social structures and the decrease of finances.
  • Sand mining causes serious erosion, which undermines the structures. The frequent movement of trucks leads to damage to the embankments, which effect the flow of water.
  • Due to limited use and maintenance of the canals there is large scale growth of Musquite trees (prosopis).
  • There is a build-up of sediments before control structures
  • There is an increase of rainfall in the area as well as floods. But it is important to adapt the systems in such a way that they can handle the new flow patters and use them to the benefit of the population.
Meetings with farmers in one of the Wadi’s in Yemen
Canals overgrown with prosopis, showing the need for maintenance

More encouraging developments in the Tihama area, Yemen

During the recent work in Tihama in Yemen it became clear that in two of the major wadis – Wadi Mawr and Wadi Zabid – farmers have modified the centuries old system of water distribution and made it more equal by passing down water earlier to recharge the drinking water wells in the tail end sections of the systems. We initiated this discussion in Wadi Zabid quite some time ago, and it so impressive to see this change happening in a time of stress and conflict. The downstream areas being deprived of floods and subsurface flows after the construction of the diversion weir were suffering also from sand dune movement.

Figure 1 This map and the corresponding graphs of the different areas, show the change in Net Primary Production (NPP) in Wadi Mawr in Yemen between 2009 -2018. Upstream the NPP increases and downstream it mainly decreases. Additionally, some dark green patches show an NPP increase of >20%, which generally represent an increase in natural vegetation rather than in agricultural production.
Figure 2 These graphs show the evaporation and net primary production (NPP) from 2009-2018 for an upstream and downstream area in Wadi Mawr, Yemen. There is a clear annual pattern of an evaporation peak followed by an NPP peak, which is typical for spate irrigation systems. In the NPP timeseries for the downstream area a general decreasing trend can be observed.

Pakistan – forming networks of community groups

As part of the work of the FBLN in Pakistan community and farmer groups are being formed. The groups will be used to select which ‘good practices’ to introduce as part of the project but also to organise the farmers and help them get organise to become a partner among other actors within the spate system. Allah Bakhsh and Gulsher Panhwer of our local partners SPO and RDF are much involved in these activities.

Meetings with newly formed community and farmer groups in Pakistan
One of the female community members explaining the set-up of their community, indicating the locations of houses, shops and other important land marks

A blog on the effect of dams on groundwater by Abdul Soomro

A development taking place in many spate systems is the construction of concrete dams across the spates. The aim of the dams is to create a buffer reservoir, which can be used for year round irrigation. However, these dams often have an unintended effect on the subsurface flows in the river beds, leading to a decreased availability of water for downstream communities and often effectively stopping the seasonal spate flows.

The full blog is available through http://www.thewaterchannel.tv/thewaterblog 

Abdul Ghani Soomro of the Pakistan Agricultural Research Council has recently written a blog about this development, describing a specific case from Darawat Dam, Jamshoro, Pakistan.

Darawat Dam, Pakistan
One of the hand dug wells effected by the lowering water table.

Road water harvesting for pasture production in Kenya (ROFIP)

The ROFIP project (Roads for Indigenous Pasture Production) looks into the potential of road water harvesting for improved indigenous pasture production in arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs). The research project recently published a report on the role of soil moisture and the effect of re-seeding and road water harvesting on the growth of pasture.

The full report is available on the Roads for Water website: http://roadsforwater.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Comparative-analysis-soil-moisture-to-grass-biomass-ROFIP-1.pdf
For more information on the project visit: https://www.nwo.nl/en/research-and-results/research-projects/i/32/29032.html.

ROFIP (2) – new paper published

As part of the ROFIP project several papers have been published presenting interesting and exiting findings around the rehabilitation and management of rangelands and the cultivation of fodder grasses. The articles can be accessed through the ResearchGate website. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/336020109_Rainwater_harvesting_from_roads_enhanced_indigenous_pasture_establishment_in_a_typical_African_dryland_environment

A recent webinar on the same topic can be accessed through the waterchannel.tv http://www.thewaterchannel.tv/webinars/597-creating-pastures-in-african-drylands-using-roadwater-harvesting.

Clip of the Sorghum harvest and the ‘Laihar’-practice

January and February are the months of Sorghum harvest in Pakistan. The FBLN Pakistan chapter recently shared a video of the ongoing harvest and a specific practices related to the harvest.

‘Laihar’ means panicle collector who gets their share at the end of the day in shape of one pack of the panicles that they carry on their shoulder during collection. A poor man approached a laihar to give alm and they gave him what they deemed appropriate on the spot. The collectors are also responsible to cut the stems and oile them in the field as part of daily wage that they get at the end of the day.

http://www.thewaterchannel.tv/media-gallery/6794-sorghum-harvest-in-pakistan

Truck loaded with newly havested sorghum, preparing to deliver the harvest to the market

Spate Irrigation as cultural heritage

Karim Nawaz recently attended the ‘International Symposium on Water and Culture –Learning from Water Heritage to Innovate Regional Development’ in Tokyo where he represented MetaMeta and the FBLN in sessions on ‘water as culture and heritage’. The aim of the Symposium is to help our deeper understanding of relations between the people and water by visiting water heritage around the world.

See also the newsitem on the website of GRIPS, the hosting organisation for a newsitem on the symposium http://www.grips.ac.jp/en/news/20200212-6309/

New resources:

Our partners have published several new papers related to the news items presented in this newsflash.

1. MSc-thesis Yemen, evaluating the potential of road rain water harvesting in Yemen, a case study of the Maghrabah Manakah Bab Bahil Road, Sana’a Governorate
http://spate-irrigation.org/a-road-rain-water-harvesting-yemen/

2. Blog – Effect of dam construction on underground flows in Jamshoro, Pakistan
http://www.thewaterchannel.tv/thewaterblog

3. Report – The potential of road water harvesting for improved indigenous pasture production in arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs).
http://roadsforwater.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Comparative-analysis-soil-moisture-to-grass-biomass-ROFIP-1.pdf

Newsflash January 2020

On behalf of the Flood-Based Livelihoods Network we are wishing you a fruitful new year 2020. We trust it will be a year in which the network will be able to grow and have impact through increased cooperation and exchange.

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

Enjoy the reading!

Reflection on the regional FBLN short course @ Mekelle University, Ethiopia.

The 8th cycle regular international short course entitled “Integrated Watershed Management and Flood-based Farming Systems in ASAL Areas, Horn of Africa” held during 11 – 22 November 2019 at Mekelle University was concluded successfully. 46 experts, of which 9 were female, from Ethiopia, Somaliland and Sudan participated in the short course. All modules were supported by case studies, hands-on exercises, group exercises, video shows and experience sharing among participants. In addition, three days of field work and experience sharing visit was organized to various integrated watershed management practices and successful and failed spate irrigation systems followed by report writing and presentation by participants on observation and reflection. The trainees have applauded the relevance, practicality, content and methodology of the training and promised to apply the knowledge and skill they gained to improve the livelihoods of their lowland communities through FBFS.

Group picture with the participants of the FBLN course @ Mekelle, Ethiopia

FBLN mission to Kenya

A team of senior professionals from the Ethiopian Flood-Based Livelihoods Network and Mekelle University visited Kenya during 27 November – 08 December 2019 to support the design and implementation of two pilot spate irrigation schemes in Turkana and Marsabit Counties in collaboration with GIZ Kenya and County Governments. The assignment also aims at transferring the necessary knowledge and skills to the County experts through an on-job training.

Afar, Ethiopia – Measuring the impact of flood water spreading weirs using the WAPOR translator analysis

Measuring the impact flood water spreading weirs in Afar. In the last four years there has been considerable investment in flood water spreading weirs by GIZ in Afar in Ethiopia. The weirs divert the short duration flood water from the ephemeral rivers and spread these over the land for agriculture, reforestation and rangeland improvement. We are developing a new suite of applications that uses the WAPOR data base of FAO – which is an active repository of ET data (and more).

Here are some early results. With the tools we can see that after completion of the weirs in 2016 there are clear evapotranspiration peaks in the flood season, that were not there before – hinting at the effectiveness of the structures. As a next step we will expand the analysis to other parameters and ground truth it. We are also starting the use of these instruments for other spate and flood based system where investment is planned per required such as Amboseli, Gash and Tihama.

See the website of WAPOR for more info: https://wapor.apps.fao.org/home/WAPOR_2/1

Pictures from the DREAM ASAL conference in Afar, Ethiopia

As we shared in the November Newsflash MetaMeta co-organised the DREAM ASAL 2019 conference took place from September 29 – October 3rd. Over 250 participants gathered in Semera, Ethiopia – an enormous outcome. It hosted a large and diverse number of participants: pastoralists and agro-pastoralists, decision makers, international development partners, governmental implementers, civil society experts, researchers, and others. People came from Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Somaliland, Namibia and Pakistan.

During the conference some high quality images were taken showing the surroundings in Afar as well as the effects of rainfall in arid regions. The images are now available through Flickr, https://flic.kr/s/aHsmJxdxTw. With thanks to Patrick van den Akker.

Dry and cracked soils, shortly after a rain shower unique to these arid areas

Road water harvesting in Malawi – recent field visit

The Malawi FBLN chapter has run a pilot in which road run off water is diverted into a small irrigation scheme. The scheme is managed by a group of 23 farmers and has the potential to grow to an area of 20 hectares. As the set-up is first of its kind in Malawi it has been an adaptive learning process but with much potential for upscaling.

The FBLN chapter was recently able to visit the site in Balaka and engage with the farmers as well as Macpherson Nthara who is enthusiastically championing the FBLN and Roads for Water approaches in Malawi.

Strengthening the sides of the channel diverting the water from the road to the field, to slow down the water and avoid erosion of the slopes

Pakistan – combatting locusts

Gulsher Panheer of the FBLN chapter in Pakistan recently shared an interesting item on locusts, and combatting them in Pakistan. He describes a recent situation in Nai Gaj spate irrigation command area in Sindh, Pakistan, where swarms of locusts were threatening a promising harvest in an otherwise dry area. Through timely action and spread of news, interaction with the right government departments and the use of social media and sms-services the right precautionary measures were taken to prevent damage to crops, including making noise using tins, collecting locusts at night using light and digging small ditches around the fields.

The full article can be viewed on https://dailytimes.com.pk/504634/locust-threat-in-sindh/ and http://www.thewaterchannel.tv/thewaterblog.

Yemen – Tihama and the effects of years of conflict

Years of conflict and neglect of the spate channels have caused heavy encroachment by prosopis juliflora leaving the systems in Wadi Rima and Wadi Siham, Yemen, choked.
Creating food insecurity in what was Yemen’s food belt.

Spate channels overgrown with prosopis juliflora

Update on PhDs working on FBLN topics

Kebedde Manjur Gebru who carried out a research with Mekelle University and Utrecht University on the value chains of three value chains – vegetables, sesame and malt barley and the possibilities for small holder farmers, see https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Kebede_Manjur for his articles.

Anila Perwaiz Memon studied the Impact of Climate Change on Hill Torrents and Groundwater Using GIS Modeling in Kohistan Region of Sindh, Pakistan, which has provided interesting insights for the potential of spate irrigation in Pakistan, see https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Aneela_Memon.

Abdul Ghani Soomro studied hydrologic assessment of Khirthar National Range using remote sensing and modeling approach. His work can be found on the resources page of the www.spate-irrigation.org website and will help to understand the flow patterns within spate irrigation systems.

Mara Zenebe also works on FBLN through Wageningen University under the title ‘How Effective is Traditional Floodwater Governance in Flood-based Livelihood Systems? Analyses and Farmers’ Perspectives in Tana River County, Kenya.’ Mara is about to publish her paper, which will become available through the Spate Irrigation website.

Lastly, Elly Arukulem Yaluk has recently started a PhD with Shanghai University. She has in the past worked with the FBLN and also published a blog on theWaterChannel. http://www.thewaterchannel.tv/dossiers/livelihoods-from-floods/478-blog-resolving-the-drought-puzzle-in-northern-kenya.

FBLN curriculum workshop in Sudan

As part of the ongoing Africa to Asia and Back project, under IFAD, the FBLN will organise a curriculum review workshop during which the various institutions which have adopted FBLN or Spate Irrigation in their curriculum will come together to share experiences and fine tune the programs. The workshop will take place under the umbrella of the Hydraulics Research Centre in Sudan.

Roads for Water trainings and new Green Roads for Water website

The Roads for Water network and the Flood-based Livelihoods Network recently organised a series of ‘Road Water Management Training and Experience Sharing Workshops’ in Ethiopia, Nepal and Uganda. During the workshops experiences from within the countries were shared. The presentations from the three workshop can be accessed through the brand new Green Roads for Water website, www.roadsforwater.org.

Participants and facilitators of the Nepal Green Roads for Water training
Screenshot of the new Green Roads for Water website

Blog on: the ‘Mother of all Ponds’

Roadwater harvesting has the potential to greatly improve peoples livelihoods. We recently came across an inspiring example in Masala, Ethiopia, which is locally referred to as ‘the mother of all ponds’. Access the full case study through the blog on The waterchannel: http://www.thewaterchannel.tv/thewaterblog/620-from-the-mother-of-all-ponds-road-water-harvesting-in-masala-ethiopia

Panorama picture of the pond described in the article

Thank you to Emma Greatrix

Emma Greatrix has been closely involved with the FBLN through her work at IWMI in Sri Lanka, which included coordinating the Africa to Asia and Back project. She has recently informed us she will shift jobs within IWMI, which includes handing over the project to a colleague. As FBLN we want to thank Emma for her hard work and for her role in expanding the Flood-Based Livelihoods Network. We wish her all the best in her new role within IWMI/WLE.

Blog on Village Poultry

The difference a village chicken can make in the life of a poor woman is amazing. Safe source of income, independent capital asset, universal delicacy, main source of protein. Eggs ranks high in the list of essential brainfood. They are a major ingredient in diets that stimulate the development of mental capacity in every village all over the world.

One of the ways to support the raring of chicken is the introduction of the ‘hatching pan’, which is an innovation as significant as any basic tool. What it does is simple – it combines a comfortable place for the chicken to hatch its eggs with two small containers that are integral part of it – one for water and one for food. So the hen has food and drinks at hand. This prevents it from rummaging around to still its hunger and quench its thirst and neglect its eggs in the process resulting in a much higher success rate for the hatched eggs.

The FBLN has taken the prototype from Bangladesh to Ethiopia and adapted it for the local circumstances. A full description is available through http://www.thewaterchannel.tv/thewaterblog.

Hatching pan which leads to healthier hens and an increased success rate for the hatched eggs

Micro-climate course announcement

MetaMeta, the FBLN and the Water Harvesting Lab of the University of Florence will organise an online course for Water Harvesting for Microclimate Management. Registration is open up to January 15th and more information can be accessed through https://www.dagri.unifi.it/p642.html and http://spate-irrigation.org/early-announcement-international-online-course-on-water-harvesting-for-microclimate-management/.

Applications from developing and transitions countries are particularly welcomed, and 10 places will be available free of charge for selected students.

New resources:

Our partners have published several new papers related to irrigation in Yemen, Spate irrigation in Pakistan and making floods to use in the Shire Valley in Malawi:

1. Paper – The Economic Value of Irrigation Water in Wadi Zabid, Tihama Plain, Yemen
https://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/11/22/6476/pdf

2. Paper – Spatiotemporal variability in spate irrigation systems in Khirthar National Range, Sindh, Pakistan (case study) by Abdul Ghani Soomro
https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11600-019-00392-1

3. Paper – Sensitivity of direct runoff to curve number Using the SCS-CV method by Abdul Ghani Soomro
https://www.civilejournal.org/index.php/cej/article/view/1741/pdf

4. Paper  – Revisiting dominant practices in floodwater harvesting systems: making flood events worth their occurrence in flood-prone area. Research paper by Mphatso Malota and Joshua Mchenga.
http://spate-irrigation.org/a-floods-shire-malawi/

Newsflash November

Welcome to the November newsflash of the Flood-based Livelihoods Network. We have gathered an interesting and exiting overview of developments and resources from within our network. Feel free to share your feedback, news or ideas with us through info@spateirrigation.org.
Enjoy the reading!

Reflection on the DREAM conference in Afar, Ethiopia

The DREAM ASAL 2019 conference took place from September 29 – October 3. Over 250 participants gathered in Semera, Ethiopia – an enormous outcome. The conference took stock of the most promising approaches in the arid and semi-arid lowlands of Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa. It hosted a large and diverse number of participants: pastoralists and agro-pastoralists, decision makers, international development partners, governmental implementers, civil society experts, researchers, and others. People came from Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Somaliland, Namibia and Pakistan.

Topics discussed included:

  • Participatory Land Use Planning
  • Land Rehabilitation – Including Flood Water Spreading
  • Rangeland Management, Grazing Management, Carrying Capacity
  • Livelihoods Development – Including Flood Based Farming
  • Water Supply and Disaster Risk Management
  • Controlling or Utilizing Invasive Species – esp. Prosopis Juliflora

Presentations and other resources from the conference are accessible through the 2019 conference website http://www.thewaterchannel.tv/news/609-conference.
The conference was a major success with a joint Declaration in the end and working groups working on all the themes to come with improved approaches to be presented in a follow up conference in 2020. More details to follow in other newsletters!

FBLN Short Course at Mekelle University

The Mekelle University will host the annual international training on integrated watershed management and flood-based farming systems (FBFS)  from 11 – 22 November 2019. Over 40 people have registered which is encouraging for the Ethiopian FBLN chapter. A summary of the event and some of the presentations will be published through the FBLN website after the course has finished.

New appointment for Dr. Adel Al-Washali from WEC Yemen

Dr. Adel Al-Washali has been a long term partner within the Flood-based Livelihoods Network, through the Sana’a University. Recently he has been requested by the High Council on Agriculture of the Government of Yemen to develop a national strategy on spate irrigation, starting in the Tihama. This is critically important as this once flood-based food basket of the country is now an area of high poverty with the spate diversion structures poorly maintained in four years of war and the flood channels encroached and blocked by prosopis juliflora. The aim is to ‘build back better’ both physically and institutionally – and come to sustainable and equitable spate water systems.
We congratulate Dr. Adel with this new appointment.

Pasture production with Road Water Harvesting

We have been working on making better use of short duration floods in arid lowland to grow seeded native grasses – so as to boost fodder production in pastoralist areas. This is a new practice we have been working on to introduce in Kitui in Kenya – using the short floods generated from road drainage. The results have been overwhelming! The project team has recently published a series of videos showcasing pasture production in the drylands of Kitui, Kenya. Six farmers share experiences on various aspects: one specializes in milk production, another sells hay, while yet another does seed production and livestock fattening simultaneously. They are all pioneers, venturing into active cultivation of grass. This is a new practice in the area, so they have an important role in their communities, showing and teaching others the importance of pasture production. Watch and learn from these role models….
The blog of the project can be accessed through https://vimeo.com/showcase/rofip and also via the Waterchannel http://www.thewaterchannel.tv/media-gallery?filter_tag=rofip.

Resolving Land Tenure Issues Under Spate Irrigation; A Case of FBLN Malawi

The FBLN Malawi chapter is working with communities in Balaka District, Southern Malawi to establish a Model Spate Irrigation scheme, using harvested road run-off water. The coordinator of the Malawi FBLN chapter, Macpherson Nthara has produced an overview of the results so far of which a summary is included in the newsflash. The full document is accessible through the website.

Poor water management in fields, prior to the interventions (left), discussions with local leaders (right)

One of the drivers to establish the scheme is the increasing population pressure, resulting in reduced land holding size. The shrinking trend of land holding affects the ability of land users to cope with their problems, including investment on improved technologies for water management e.g. run off diversion structures. Due to the absence of clear land ownership rights, farmers cultivate the land under temporary arrangements and expect the land to be taken away from them during certain growing seasons. In Balaka, it was noted that land owners tend to use the land during the rainy season but they would rent it out during off season. Investing in their land is seen as inappropriate because they are unlikely to reap the benefit of their work.

The Customary Land Act 2006 (CLA) provides the necessary legal instruments to consolidate the many small parcels of land held under customary tenure into a single group-owned entity. The FBLN Malawi Chapter will use this provision to enable irrigation block formation as a foundational intervention for the development of business-oriented Spate irrigation farming. The land which is consolidated will be owned collectively by the group of farmers who have customary use-rights to the land parcels making up the Spate Irrigation Scheme, providing a stable basis for their investments.

Updates from FBLN Pakistan

With Strengthening Participatory Organisations (SPO) and RDF (Research for Development  Foundation) we are working on improving the performance of major spate irrigation systems in Pakistan.

The aim is to ensure fair water distribution – making sure that recent and planned changes in major infrastructure is incorporated to the benefit of all – and at the same time with a network of community organizations introducing better practices – taking examples from other areas. The activities focus on Sindh and Balochistan provinces, but we are in touch with all other Provinces in Pakistan as well.

One promising development is the possibility of marketing high value oils (cold pressed) and in general organic produce (for instance of cluster bean). In Sindh an early breakthrough has been achieved by dovetailing road redevelopment with the requirement of the flood channels – so as to make sure that blockage no longer occur.

Pictures from Pakistan: Roads can block floods, often leading to damage.
Proper design and construction can benefit both the flood as well as the road users.

Organic crops from flood based farming

As in flood based farming rich sediment comes with the floods, usually no fertilizers are required. Also other agrochemicals – in particular pesticides – are generally not used – instead there is a rich tradition of local pest management and selecting the most resistant varieties. This sets spate irrigation systems up for the sourcing of organic crops – especially those used at large quantities in the food industry, such as sesame or guar (cluster bean). See also the Practical Note no 16 on ‘Supply and value chains of organic and niche crops in spate ecologies Consultation paper Spate Irrigation’ http://spate-irrigation.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/PN_16_Supply-value-chain_SF.pdf

We have made first contact with organizations sourcing organic material.

In addition there is also good scope for special organic crops. One main example we are now building the case for is the oil of rucola seed (arugula): this is a high value medication for hair growth, works to control obesity and is an aphrodisiac as well. More to come!

Soil moisture and flood water productivity

We are working to better understand the importance of soil moisture management and water conservation. In the past two years several detailed research studies were undertaken to better understand how we conserve and manage soil moisture. We are now wanting to extrapolate it and based on the WAPOR data base of FAO we are developing a suite of applications that will help assess the bio-mass production, the soil moisture at different depths and volumes of water used productively and non-productively.

See http://www.fao.org/in-action/remote-sensing-for-water-productivity/en/.

Training on Rainwater Harvesting, Organic Farming, Permaculture and Agroforestry

We recently co-facilitated a training for delegates from the Sudanese government, in Nairobi, Kenya. During the training the delegates were exposed to a range of promising approaches, including harvesting floods from roads and utilizing the water for crop cultivation, agro-forestry and methods to enhance water productivity. The training was an excellent opportunity to showcase the results of the work carried out in the recent years and to investigate opportunities for the Sudanese context.
Presentations and other resources from the training are available through the FBLN website.

ICOMOS – Water as a cultural heritage

We are partnering with ICOMOS to establish the significance of spate irrigations system as living and vibrant examples of cultural heritage still going strong. The aim is to ultimately emphasize the importance of such long lasting water systems and make them part of planning future land systems. ICOMOS − the International Council on Monuments and Sites − is the international NGO of professionals, practitioners, institutions, and other bodies committed to and supporting the conservation/preservation of the cultural heritage of all peoples.

New resources

Our partners have published several new videos related to using floods for livelihoods in Myanmar and turning bush into fodder in Namibia:

1. Video – Golden Apple Snail Management, Myanmar
https://www.facebook.com/1745737845717541/videos/360926157969078/

2. Video – Bush Control Namibia: Turning Bush into Fodder
http://www.thewaterchannel.tv/media-gallery/6786-bush-control-namibia-turning-bush-into-fodder

3. Book – Taking the Waters – Soil and Water Conservation among Settling Beja Nomads in Eastern Sudan. PhD thesis from 1995, uploaded on the FBLN resources page.
http://spate-irrigation.org/a-taking-the-waters-swc-in-sudan/

4. Paper  – Estimation of groundwater potential using GIS modelling in Kohistan region Jamshoro District, Southern Indus basin, Sindh, Pakistan (a case study). Research article by Aneela Memon, et al.
https://link.springer.com/